With the bases loaded and down to its final out of the season, the Blinn College baseball team chose to show a little patience.

What a choice it was.

The eighth-ranked Buccaneers drew three consecutive walks with runners at every base in the top of the ninth inning and had to wait out a crucial umpire review in the home half to complete a wild 21-19 come-from-behind semifinal win over No. 6 Florence-Darlington Technical College on Thursday at the JUCO World Series in Grand Junction, Colo.

Cade Climie 2023-24
(Pictured: Blinn’s Cade Climie, right, and Rashaad James celebrate Climie’s home run against Florence-Darlington Tech on May 30, 2024)

The Bucs (45-17) are just two wins away from their first NJCAA Division I Baseball championship and will now face second-ranked Georgia Highlands College in a rematch at 7 p.m. on Friday at Sam Suplizio Field. Georgia Highlands defeated Blinn in walk-off fashion (15-14) on Wednesday but fell to Northwest Florida State (13-3) in Thursday’s nightcap. 

The Bucs can advance to a championship tilt with Northwest Florida State with a win over Georgia Highlands.

“I probably need to check my blood pressure,” Bucs head coach Dusty Hart joked after Thursday’s victory. “Just a crazy game, man … unbelievable.” 

The ballgame went 4 hours and 14 minutes and saw 13 pitchers combine for 470 pitches. The two offenses totaled 48 hits and 22 walks.

“That game was just two resilient teams that didn’t want to go home,” Hart added. “Everybody was battling until the very last out.”

Paxton Terveen 2023-24
(Pictured: Blinn’s Paxton Terveen celebrates with his teammates after the Buccaneers defeated Florence-Darlington Tech on May 30, 2024)

Blinn finished off the comeback thanks to its rally and the first-career relief appearance for game-one starter Lucas Davenport. The freshman recorded the last five outs for the Bucs and earned the win after escaping a jam with runners on first and third with two outs in the ninth. Considering the chaotic ballgame which came before it, the final out was recorded in fitting fashion after sophomore shortstop Tony Vernars fielded a high chopper and fired to freshman first baseman Paxton Terveen. Terveen, who was inserted as a defensive substitution in the ninth, corralled the throw and kept his foot on the base, but a collision with the Florence-Darlington baserunner pushed him from the bag and drew an initial safe call from the first-base umpire. 

After a short review, the call was overturned and Blinn’s dugout emptied into a celebration on the field.

“Nothing ever surprises me,” Hart said of the game-ending review. “I’ve pretty much seen it all at this point.”

Blinn defeated Florence-Darlington 17-7 in a five-inning third-round tilt earlier in the tournament, and it looked as though the rematch was again headed in that direction. 

The Bucs scored one in the first inning and tacked on four more in the second for a 5-0 lead, but the Stingers stormed back with five runs of their own in the bottom of the third. 

Blinn regained the lead with a five-run fifth, and after Florence-Darlington answered with two runs in the fourth and one in the fifth, the Bucs kept the pressure on with another five-spot in the sixth.

The game was three outs from a run-rule finish after a three-run seventh had Blinn in control 18-9, but the Stingers rallied for seven runs in their half of the frame before grabbing the lead on a three-run homer in the eighth.

Coy DeFury 2023-24
(Pictured: Blinn’s Coy DeFury hits a three-run double against Florence-Darlington Tech on May 30, 2024)

“We had the run rule in effect, and then Florence-Darlington started barreling up everything,” sophomore second baseman Connor McGinnis said. “It was hard, but we just got back on our feet and kept pushing.”

Sophomore first baseman Coy DeFury led off Blinn’s ninth inning with a walk and was lifted for freshman pinch runner Carson Peschel. Vernars followed with a walk before sophomore Brayden Sprencel entered as a pinch hitter and laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to advance the runners. One out later, sophomore Cade Climie kept the inning alive with a four-pitch walk, and freshman Caden Ferraro took a strike before laying off four straight pitches to bring home the tying run. McGinnis then walked to put the Bucs on top and sophomore Brandon Bishop drew a free pass to give Blinn a two-run cushion.

“We have some power hitters in our lineup, but we have to know our role in that moment and see some pitches when the opposing pitcher is struggling to throw strikes,” said Ferraro, who hit a solo home run in the second. “I was up there with a 3-1 count and obviously I wanted to take a hack and get that big hit, but you really have to understand that it’s a team game and you’re playing for the team right there.”

Blinn finished with 17 hits and drew 14 walks. 

Climie hit a three-run homer in the second before Ferraro followed with his longball. It was the second back-to-back homer sequence for the Bucs in the World Series.

Caden Ferraro 2023-24
(Pictured: Blinn’s Caden Ferraro is congratulated by coach Eric Weaver after homering against Florence-Darlington Tech on May 30, 2024)

McGinnis and sophomore Tanner Reaves each finished with a team-high four hits. Climie also doubled as part of a two-hit game and drove in five runs. Reaves, Bishop, and DeFury knocked in three RBIs apiece. Freshman catcher Ethan Gonzalez had two hits and two RBIs, and Ferraro also plated a pair.  

Davenport allowed two hits and struck out two while improving to 2-0 in the World Series. Freshman Caden Marcum started for the Bucs and allowed two runs (earned) on one hit and five walks. He struck out three. Sophomores Cody PfefferTyler Bogusz, and Jake Kolkhorst combined for 5 1/3 frames of relief before Davenport entered with one out in the eighth.

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

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