The fourth-ranked Blinn College baseball team is beginning to show just exactly what all the hype was about.

High expectations before the season were further justified Friday as the Buccaneers swept a doubleheader from Baton Rouge Community College 16-8 and 14-1 (7 innings) in Baton Rouge, La.

Blinn, who finished fourth in the country at the NJCAA Division I Baseball World Series in 2023, reloaded with a crop of talented bats and arms prior to the start of this season, and those additions are quickly paying off. The Bucs have tallied 14 or more runs in their past three games and own a 3-1 record.

“Any day that you can get two wins on the road in a hostile environment is a good day,” second-year Blinn head coach Dusty Hart said. “Everybody contributed today. We were able to take advantage of our depth in the dugout and I don’t think there was one guy on this team who didn’t contribute today in some way.”

The Bucs raced out to an early lead in game one, grabbing a 3-0 advantage on a three-run home run from sophomore infielder Coy DeFury in the first inning. After the Bears answered with a run in the bottom of the first, 2023 All-American infielder Tanner Reaves smacked a three-run homer of his own to right field to put Blinn ahead 6-1.

Baton Rouge battled back to tie the game at 6-all, and even after Bucs sophomore outfielder Brandon Bishop scored on an error, the Bears tied the game once again, 7-7, with a run in the home half of the seventh.

In the eighth frame, however, the Bucs found a spark in the form of sophomore infielder Brayden Sprencel, who delivered a bases clearing RBI double to put his team ahead for good at 10-7. 

Reaves later crushed a two-run blast to right field to make it 16-7.

Baton Rouge tallied one run in the bottom of the ninth. 

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(Pictured: Blinn College sophomore Tanner Reaves)

Reaves finished his day 3 for 4 with a walk, six RBIs, and three runs scored. Sophomore infielder Connor McGinnis went 2 for 5 with a triple, a walk, two RBIs, and three runs scored. DeFury finished with two hits and three RBIs.

On the mound, Blinn sophomore Shane Connell had a tough day as he allowed six runs (all earned) on five hits. He struck out three and walked two. Sophomore pitcher Jake Kolkhorst entered in the third and worked four scoreless frames of two-hit ball. He struck out five Bears without issuing a walk.

“I really think the bullpens were the difference in that first game,” Hart said. “It’s a big-time gamechanger when you’ve got guys who are sitting over in the bullpen for five or six innings who can come in and pitch how we did today. It’s good knowing we can bring those relievers in, and the talent level doesn’t fall off the table.”

Sophomores Cody Pfeffer and Taylor Calcote combined for three innings of relief to close out the opener.

Game two was much of the same for Blinn, as they again found their offense early and built a big lead.

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(Pictured: Blinn College sophomore Jake Kolkhorst)

DeFury opened the scoring with an RBI single before sophomore infielder Cade Climie mashed a two-run homer to left field for a 3-o edge. Bishop scored freshman Caden Ferraro on a sacrifice to make it 4-0.

In the second inning, Ferraro singled home Reaves and sophomore Kash Durkin drew a walk with the bases loaded. Sophomore Lane Allen and Bishop then singled in back-to-back at bats to make it 9-0.

Freshman outfielder Tavion Vaughns hit a three-run shot in the top of the seventh to close out the scoring. 

Baton Rouge tallied its lone run in the bottom of the sixth.

DeFury, Climie, and Bishop each had two hits for the Bucs.

On the mound, sophomore Brendan Sweeney was electric across four innings of work. He allowed four hits without a walk , struck out six Bears, and picked a runner off first base.

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(Pictured: Blinn College sophomore Brendan Sweeney)

“He was really good for us today,” Hart said of Sweeney. “He’s going to be a tough match for most teams. He’s a 6’6 guy with a 94-95 mile-per-hour fastball, and he mixes in a great changeup and still has a slider in his back pocket. When you’ve got a guy throwing three pitches with command, he’s going to give you a chance to win every time he steps on the mound.”

Following Sweeney on the mound were freshmen Courtt Gentry and Caden Marcum, along with sophomore Tyler Bogusz. The trio worked one inning apiece and allowed just one earned run on one hit while adding six strikeouts.

The Bucs return to play with a tentatively scheduled doubleheader against the Bears set for noon on Saturday. Inclement weather is expected in Baton Rouge, and could put an early end to the series.

Blinn has competed in intercollegiate athletics since 1903 and captured 45 NJCAA national championships since 1987. 

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