With his sophomore pitcher struggling, Blinn baseball coach Harvey McIntyre approached Shane McCarley and offered a few encouraging words in the first inning of the Buccaneers' doubleheader Saturday.
Just trust your stuff, McIntyre told the right-hander.
McCarley had allowed two walks and a double, and with two outs, the San Jacinto Gators threatened to take an early lead at Leroy Dreyer Field. McIntyre's words, however brief, resonated with the sophomore who forced a fly out to end the threat and went on to pitch a seven-inning, one-hit shutout.
The Bucs swept the Gators 1-0 and 8-3 to regain their third-place spot in the Region XIV Conference with four games remaining. San Jacinto swept Thursday's doubleheader 7-4 and 5-4.
"Shane had a big day," McIntyre said. "He really settled down and gave us all he had."
After allowing the first-inning double, McCarley retired 14 straight batters and 16 of 17 to end the game.
Blinn (29-22, 20-16) freshman Cullen Jozwiak came through with the clutch hit that gave the Bucs the victory. Jozwiak, a Brenham High School product, hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh that scored Caden Williams.
"We were waiting for the one knock all game," McIntyre said.
The Bucs had threatened in the bottom of the first and sixth but came up empty. In the sixth, Jozwiak hit a leadoff double and moved to third on a Jose Reyes sacrifice bunt. Blinn was able to bring him home after San Jacinto ended the inning with back-to-back strikeouts.
Jozwiak was 2-for-3 with an RBI. Williams and Nolan Brown each had hits.
Blinn rode the momentum of Game 1's win into Game 2.
The Bucs led 3-1 after three innings and a Brett Rhode triple in the fourth extended that lead to 5-1.
Rohde was 1-for-2 with a run scored and two RBI. Jager Toffan was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and Jozwiak was 2-for-4.
Keith Brenner tossed five innings, allowing two runs—one earned—on a hit, while striking out three and walking five. Freshman Christian Thames threw four innings of relief, allowing a run on a hit and striking out three.
"Our guys grew up today," McIntyre said. "They had to earn a series split the hard way and they came out and did it."