GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – There was a reason Blinn baseball coach Harvey McIntyre didn't want the Buccaneers to be the home team in their 2014 Alpine Bank JUCO World Series opener.
He wanted the Bucs to draw first blood.
Despite facing the 2013 Pitcher of the Year in Steve Naemark, the Bucs put up three early runs and ran away to a 7-4 victory over Cochise College here at Suplizio Field Saturday afternoon for their first World Series win since 1992.
"I was picking visitor no matter what," McIntyre said, referring to the results of the coin flip. "We've scored first nine times in a row, and today we put up two early and our guys are ready to go from there. Does it mean you won the baseball game? No. But it easies some of the emotions and gives you a good start."
It's the start the offense carried throughout the game.
The Bucs pounded out 10 hits, including three home runs, and recorded a hit in every inning except the fifth.
Blinn jumped ahead 4-0 after the top half of the fourth, but Cochise, the third-place finisher in the 2013 World Series, took advantage of pair of runs and walks by starting pitcher Robbie Dickey to make it a 4-3 game.
"At that moment I thought we were right back in the game," Cochise coach Todd Inglehart said.
Blinn freshman Stephen Stuart quickly snatched the momentum back into the Bucs' favor.
On the first pitch of the fifth inning, Stuart launched his first home run of the season over the 330-yard right field wall. And Stuart's day wasn't finished. He launched another solo shot in the top of the seventh—in nearly the same spot as his first home run—and made a diving catch in left field in the seventh that robbed Cochise of two sure runs.
"He's been a guy for us to really come on late and it was good to see him take good swings against a left-handed pitcher," McIntyre said.
Stuart was 2-for-5 with three runs scored and two RBI, and sophomore Nolan Brown was 2-for-5 with an RBI triple in the first.
Despite Dickey's trouble on the mound, freshman Seth Ballew, a southpaw, tossed 3 2-3 innings of relief for the Bucs and had little issues of holding the Cochise offense in check.
Ballew worked out of an inherited bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the sixth with a strikeout and a flyout.
After an error loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth, leading to an Apaches run to cut Blinn's lead to 7-4, Ballew forced Nick Borowski into a game-ending double play.
"I've come in a couple times bases loaded, but I have trust in my defense and my team that if I make the pitches we'll get out of it," Ballew said.
Ballew has become a staple in Blinn's bullpen in recent weeks. Against San Jacinto in the Region XIV Conference semifinals, the southpaw tossed six innings as the Bucs advanced to the finals with an 11-4 victory. A game earlier against Alvin, Ballew threw 3 1-3 innings and retired the final nine batters as the Bucs beat the Dolphins for just the second time of the season.
"I feel great about him on the mound—he's been stellar for us lately," McIntyre said. "It was great to see him finish today."
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