LUFKIN, Texas -- For the first time in four games at the Region XIV Conference Tournament, Blinn baseball coach Harvey McIntyre felt his team was focusing too much on what was at stake rather than the game at hand.
What’s at stake, exactly: The Buccaneers’ first trip to the NJCAA World Series since 1992.
Even though the Buccaneers suffered a 12-4 loss to the Alvin Dolphins here Friday, their World Series chances remain alive with one more game Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Roadrunner Complex at Angelina College.
“That’s the advantage of being in the winner’s bracket,” McIntyre said. “It didn’t line up right today and we didn’t play really well, but we have to leave it all at the gate tomorrow.”
After jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first, Alvin responded with a three-run bottom half of the frame off a bases-clearing double by Brian Valencia.
It was all Alvin from there as the Dolphins mashed four home runs and took advantage of two Blinn errors and a day when the Buccaneer pitching staff wasn’t at its best. While the Buccaneers managed 14 hits, they couldn’t get the timely base knock to cut into Alvin’s lead. Twice Blinn ended an inning with the bases loaded.
“The beauty of it is we get another chance tomorrow,” McIntyre said. “We told the guys coming in it’s not going to be easy, and in this tournament with this kind of competition it’s tough to string four good games together.”
Blinn will start sophomore right-hander Keith Brenner on Saturday. Brenner is 4-4 on the season with a 3.42 ERA in 55 1-3 innings.
In two games against Alvin this season, Brenner has tossed 6 1-3 innings and allowed two runs on five hits.
“If he’s on, it’s going to make a long day for some people,” McIntyre said.
The Bucs still have the majority of their bullpen ready for Saturday, including sophomores Cole Doherty and Dillon Mazzoccoli and freshman Christian Thames.
“We’re still in really good shape,” McIntyre said. “There’s a berth to Grand Junction on the line, we can’t hold back.”