MOUNT PLEASANT, Texas – Down 4-0 in the first round of the Region XIV Baseball Tournament, Blinn College baseball coach Harvey McIntyre wasn’t about to give up on his ballclub.
With sophomore starter Kevin Hahn struggling against a hot-hitting Texarkana College squad, McIntyre turned to his only other all-conference starting pitcher, Jason Simms. If the Bucs couldn’t pull off the comeback, McIntyre would have burned arguably his two best pitchers with nothing to show for it.
Instead, Simms worked his way out of the third inning and held Texarkana scoreless the rest of the way, and the Buccaneers’ bats responded to erase a six-run deficit and come away with an 11-6 victory.
The Buccaneers will now play the winner of Sunday night’s 8 p.m. game between Galveston College and Northeast Texas at 8 p.m. Monday.
“I thought it was early enough in the game that we had plenty of chances to get back into it,” McIntyre said. “I wouldn’t be feeling real good about things right now if we’d lost. If we lost and burned both Hahn and Simms, we’d be in trouble.”
The Buccaneer comeback started in the fourth inning, when Eric Preuss, a Brenham High School grad, hit a three-run home run.
“That was the ice breaker,” McIntyre said. “We cut it in half in one swing.”
The Buccaneers broke the game open with an eight-run eighth-inning rally. With one out, Quinton Evans and Hayden Vesely each hit RBI doubles to cut the Bulldogs’ lead to 6-5. Kevin Daniels, an all-conference outfielder who has missed the last five weeks due to a leg injury, entered the game as a pinch hitter, singling to load the bases before he was replaced by a pinch runner.
J.C. Neighbors followed with an RBI single to tie the game and Jake Kane, another Buccaneer who has recently missed time due to injury, hit a sacrifice fly to give Blinn its first lead. With two outs, freshman third baseman Eric Wood hit a grand slam to make it 11-6.
Wood was 3-for-5 in the first postseason game of his career.
“He’s got that ‘it’ factor, no doubt about it,” McIntyre said.
But there was no denying that Simms was the lynchpin. The sophomore right-hander threw seven innings, allowing one earned run on four hits. He struck out 10.
“His breaking ball was the best it’s been all year,” McIntyre said. “That thing was moving four and a half feet.”
The tournament was originally scheduled to begin Saturday, but was pushed back a day due to rain. Trevor Seidenberger will start Monday’s game for the Bucs.