Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Blinn eliminates Bulldogs, 15-13

Blinn eliminates Bulldogs, 15-13

MOUNT PLEASANT, Texas—As for as Texarkana College is concerned, the South has already risen again.

The Bulldogs’ two-and-out exit from the 2008 Region XIV baseball tournament was courtesy of South Zone teams, including No. 4 seed Blinn College, which outlasted TC, 15-13, in a near-four-hour elimination game Sunday at Northeast Texas Community College’s Bob Baker Field.

Thus the first season of the Will Bolt regime at TC ended at 33-23. Blinn (25-26) plays at 10 this morning against the loser of Sunday’s late game between Alvin College and Navarro.

And it was late, thanks to Sunday’s 11-inning opener that went to Wharton College over Panola, 8-7, and the TC-Blinn marathon that produced a combined 28 runs, 31 hits, 20 walks and 27 runners left on base.

The game was as crazy as those numbers indicate. Blinn had leads of 6-0 and 11-4 before the Bulldogs took advantage of six walks, a hit-batsman and two hits and three runs batted in by David Allday to score eight runs in the seventh inning to take a 12-11 lead.

But they couldn’t hold it.

The Buccaneers scored once in the eighth to tie it, then three more in the ninth off losing pitcher Thomas Watson, two coming on Matthew Steele’s triple that careened off Anton Garcia’s glove in center field.

Winning pitcher James Brandhorst blanked the Bulldogs in the eighth, but surrendered doubles to Gip Hendrix and Watson and a walk in the ninth before ending the game with a strikeout and the potential tying runs on base.

“We expended a lot of energy getting back into the game,” Bolt said. “We did the best we could to slow the game down a little bit for the guys, but they just got so hyped up in situations where all it took was one more hit to break their backs. We were never-say-die, and that’s kind of what this team’s been about all year long.”

TC starter Justin Fowler was hit hard in 5 2/3 innings, including home runs by Layton Hiller and Trey Johnson. Cory Hill surrendered a 3-run homer to the first batter he faced, Zakary Leonhardt, as Blinn extended its lead to 10-3.

“Justin didn’t have his best stuff, but the thing about it, he got us into the sixth inning,” Bolt said. “Not a lot of guys can say that after giving up a four-spot in the first two. He mostly pitched behind in the count, but I thought he competed really hard, and he gave us a chance by staying out there until the sixth.”

Texarkana had to make several positions changes during the course of the game, as well as a big one before it. Second baseman Justin Coats was a late scratch with a shoulder injury suffered in Saturday’s first-round loss to Alvin.

“I had him in the lineup, but he couldn’t throw, and I saw him take batting practice, and he wasn’t the same guy,” Bolt said. “It was a physical, and I think a little bit of a mental blow. It hurt, but that’s not what lost us the game.”

Hiller had a lot to do with that, driving in five runs with four hits, including his 15th home run and a triple. Johnson was 3 for 3 with two RBIs, and Steele drove in three with a triple and a single. Travis Cougot had a pair of doubles as the Bucs totaled 16 hits.

Watson and Allday swung the big bats for TC. Watson was 4 for 5, including a 3-run homer that put Texarkana on the board after Blinn had built a 6-0 lead. Watson also had a double and drove home four runs.

Allday had four singles in six at-bats, driving three runs, all in the big seventh inning. Lance Marvel tripled and singled in three official at-bats, and Hendrix had a pair of doubles.

Thirteen of TC’s 15 total hits were by freshmen.

“We’re not the most perfect team, not the best team that’s ever been through Texarkana,” Bolt said. “But I’m pretty proud of my group the way that they really competed.”

Blinn College 310 024 113 — 15 16 0

Texarkana 000 031 801 — 13 15 4

Trenton Irwin, Will Burke (7), Brian Smith (7), James Brandhorst (8) and Mario Eremo. Justin Fowler, Cory Hill (6), Gip Hendrix (7), Thomas Watson (8) and Dean Malthouse. WP-Brandhorst. LP-Watson. HR: BC-Layton Hiller, 1st, 2 on; Trey Johnson, 5th, none on; Zakary Leonhardt, 6th, 2 on. TC-Watson, 5th, 2 on.