BEAUMONT, Texas — Blinn College baseball battled for four straight wins in the elimination bracket before falling to No. 15 Navarro College, 14-7, in the 2019 NJCAA Region XIV Baseball Championship game Wednesday night at Vincent-Beck Stadium.
After falling to Angelina College in the first game of the tournament, the Buccaneers eliminated its next four opponents in Laredo College, Alvin Community College, Angelina and Panola College for a chance to compete for the regional championship. Blinn concludes the season with a 32-23 overall record and second-place finish in the Region XIV Tournament.
Blinn captured a 7-1 win against Panola to open the tournament on Wednesday before finishing the season just short of a World Series berth.
"This group of young men had to deal with more adversity and bumps in the road than any group I've ever coached and they never turned their backs on each other," said Harvey McIntyre, Blinn head coach. "I could not be any more proud of this team. This group of sophomores has and always will have a special place in my heart and left a mark on this program that was exemplary."
Blinn 7 – Panola 1
Behind Brice Armistead's solid start on the mound, the Buccaneers defeated Panola, 7-1, in order to advance to the 2019 NJCAA Region XIV Baseball Championship game.
Armistead earned the win after pitching for 8 2/3 innings and only allowing one run on five hits, while striking out six.
Panola only had the lead in the top of the first inning when the Ponies scored one run. The Buccaneers immediately responded in the bottom half of the inning when Schields scored on Rodgers' single to tie the game.
Following two scoreless innings, the Buccaneers scored five runs in the fourth inning to pull away with a 6-1 lead for good. Preston Hoffart, Jake Miller and Greyson Kash started things off with singles to load the bases, and Schields hit a sacrifice fly for Hoffart to score, while McCalister followed with a three-run blast. Brett Minninch kept things rolling with a one-run single for the final run of the inning.
Blinn scored its final run in the fifth inning when Blake Faecher scored on a passed ball.
No. 15 Navarro 14 – Blinn 7
Although the Bulldogs only tallied three more hits than the Buccaneers, Navarro was able to get past Blinn, 14-7, for the Region XIV Championship.
Blinn's offense recorded 10 hits, led by Gibbons who went 3-for-5. Schields contributed three runs, while Minninch recorded two RBIs to lead the Buccaneers.
Navarro jumped out to an early 4-0 lead, scoring two runs in the first inning and two runs in the second inning.
The Bulldogs added another run in the fourth inning before Blinn answered back with its first two runs in the bottom half of the frame. After Gibbons, Rodgers and Minninch loaded the bases, Miller was hit by a pitch for Blinn's first run to score and a fielder's choice allowed another runner to cross the plate.
Navarro scored one run in the fifth inning to pull ahead 6-2, but the Buccaneers cut the Bulldogs' lead in half in the bottom of the inning when Schields scored on a sacrifice fly.
In the sixth inning, the Bulldogs scored two more runs to lead 8-3. However, Blinn continued to fight, scoring the lone run in the seventh inning to cut Navarro's lead in half once again when Schields scored on a sacrifice fly.
The Bulldogs did the most damage in the ninth inning, scoring six runs to take off with a 14-4 advantage.
Blinn's best inning was also in the ninth as the Buccaneers rallied back for three runs. Hoffart singled, Schields doubled and McCalister was hit by a pitch to load the bases to start the inning. Gibbons drove in the first run of the inning with a single, Schields scored on a passed ball and McCalister scored Blinn's seventh run on a groundout. Miller kept things rolling with a single, but the final out left two runners stranded as the Bulldogs claimed the win.
Blinn has competed in intercollegiate athletics since 1903 and captured 41 NJCAA national championships since 1987.