A two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning ended the eighth-ranked Blinn College baseball team’s undefeated run at the JUCO World Series.

No. 2 Georgia Highlands College walked it off for a 15-14 victory over the Buccaneers in a quarterfinal tilt at Sam Suplizio Field in Grand Junction, Colo.

Blinn (44-17) moves to the losers bracket and into a rematch with Florence-Darlington Technical College scheduled for 3 p.m. (central time) on Thursday. The Bucs defeated Florence-Darlington 17-7 in five innings in a third-round matchup on May 28. The rematch will be broadcast live on ESPN Plus, and a radio broadcast will be available on www.tsbnsports.com.

Shane Connell 2023-24
(Pictured: Blinn’s Shane Connell delivers a pitch during a game against Georgia Highlands College on May 29, 2024)

Blinn can still win the NJCAA Division I Baseball national championship, and will need three more victories to do it.

Georgia Highlands temporarily redirected the Bucs with its ninth-inning comeback.

“That was just a really good baseball game,” Blinn head coach Dusty Hart said. “I don’t know that anybody wanted to win that game … it seemed like both teams had opportunities to make plays, to make pitches, but unfortunately at the end, Georgia Highlands did and we didn’t. You have to play good baseball; that’s all there is to it.”

Before the start of the game, Hart told his team he expected the ballgame with the Chargers to be a dogfight, and that is exactly what unfolded.

After Georgia Highlands got on the board with a run off Blinn sophomore starting pitcher Shane Connell in the bottom of the first, the Bucs came roaring back in the third frame.

Caden Ferraro 2023-24
(Pictured: Blinn’s Caden Ferraro, right, celebrates with his teammates after hitting a home run against Georgia Highlands College on May 29, 2024)

Freshman Caden Ferraro hit a three-run home run – his third of the World Series – to give the Bucs the lead, and sophomore Marshall Lipsey’s two-run double made it 5-1.

The Chargers answered with three home runs that accounted for seven runs and chased Connell in the fourth inning. 

Blinn got back to work with an RBI triple from sophomore Coy DeFury and an RBI single from sophomore Tony Vernars during a two-run fifth. Then in the seventh, Vernars singled in DeFury to tie the game at 8-all.

A Lipsey RBI single, a run-scoring error, and a run-scoring wild pitch put the Bucs ahead 11-8 in the eighth. 

The Chargers stormed back with a five-run eighth for a 13-11 edge.

Sophomore Brandon Bishop doubled down the third-base line to drive in the tying runs in the ninth, and later scored on DeFury’s sacrifice fly.

Brandon Bishop 2023-24
(Pictured: Blinn’s Brandon Bishop slides into home plate safely during a game against Georgia Highlands College on May 29, 2024)

Blinn’s offense finished with 16 hits and drew nine walks. Lipsey and sophomore Connor McGinnis had three hits apiece. Lipsey and Ferraro each finished with three RBIs. 

Connell worked three innings and allowed six earned runs on three hits with four walks and three strikeouts. Sophomore Bryson Dudley worked 4 1/3 innings of relief and surrendered seven runs (six earned) on eight hits with two walks and four punchouts. 

Sophomore relief pitcher Ben Bosse induced an inning-ending double play in the eighth and faced two hitters in the ninth. He was charged with the loss.

“We have a resilient group. We’ve played three elimination games so far in this postseason,” Hart added. “I expect our guys to put this loss behind us and come out and fight and play hard tomorrow. You win three games, you win a national championship, so what else could you ask for?”

Blinn has competed in intercollegiate athletics since 1903 and captured 47 NJCAA national championships since 1987.

Floating Vimeo Video