It was one of those make or break times for a team during a season as the Seward County Saints headed back into Jayhawk West Conference play Monday and Tuesday in a weather delayed series against Barton at Brent Gould Field. The Saints went into the series losers of 5 straight games, a stretch in which they were outscored 56-13 before they returned back home to take on the Cougars. Apparently they decided it was time to flip the switch however, as they came out and took it to their opponents from Great Bend, sweeping the 4 game series and moving to 11-1 in conference play on the season.
Game one of the series featured two of the top pitchers in the Jayhawk Conference going head to head as Cameron Maldonado took the hill for the Saints and Levi Schlick opposed him for the Cougars. Barton struck first in the 2nd inning as Nathan Miller singled home Lance Woltemath with two outs to make it 1-0 Cougars. The Saints would answer in the bottom of the frame as RBI knocks from Todd Glime and Daniel Bruce would put the Saints on top 2-1. Barton evened the score in the 3rd as Hugo Hernandez came around to score after a one out double to knot the game back up at 2 apiece. Seward would strand a pair on their half of the 3rd inning but would get 2 more runs in the 4th by taking advantage of sloppy Barton defense that allowed the Saints to go back on top 4-2. The Cougars wouldnít go away however as three consecutive hits by Barton would result in a run to cut their deficit in half and make the score 4-3. A leadoff error by third baseman Ryan Busboom would help Seward start a rally in the bottom half of the 6th inning as they would tack on a trio of insurance runs on an RBI single from Quay Grant and a 2 RBI double from Luke Campbell to make it 7-3. Thank goodness they did pick up those insurance tallies in the 6th as Barton would not go quietly in their last at bats, scoring two 7th inning runs to cut the lead to 7-5 and eventually bringing the tying run to the plate in the form of Michael Edlefson before he popped out to end the game giving the Saints the win in the opener by the count of 7-5. Maldonado went 6 strong innings for Seward in the win, allowing just 3 runs while striking out 5, while picking up his 3rd straight conference win to open up the Jayhawk West slate. Campbell finished 2 for 2 in the game with 2 RBIís and found himself aboard all 4 trips to the plate thanks to a pair of walks to go with his 2 hits. Glime went 1 for 3 in the game but reached base safely 3 times, scoring each time to give the Saints a lift at the bottom of the lineup.
GAME ONE BOX
After game one, fans of offense got much more of a show in game two of the series. Barton would come out of the gates swinging, scoring 3 1st inning runs on RBI knocks from Ryan Busboom and Levi Schlick to put the Cougars up 3-0 before Seward could even pine tar their bats. The Saints would strike back in the bottom half as Kelby Tomlinson and Quay Grant would find their way aboard to open up the inning and a wild pitch and a groundout later, the Saints would trail by just one at 3-2. Nathan Miller would lead off the 2nd inning with a double and would later come around to score for Barton to push them out in front 4-2 but the Saints were ready for an offensive explosion in the bottom of the inning and that is just what they did, scoring 6 runs to take an 8-4 advantage. Daniel Bruce would pick up 2 hits in the inning including an RBI double and Josh Dawson, Luke Campbell, and Tomlinson would all pick up RBI knocks in the frame which included 5 hits and 3 walks to lead to the 6 Seward County runs. The Cougars would turn 4 hits into a run in the 3rd and the Saints would leave a pair in their half of the inning and the score was 6-3 after 3 innings of play. A leadoff double by Kevin Domzralski would be followed by a 2 run home run by catcher Todd Glime that would put the Saints out in front with a comfortable 10-5 lead. Barton would get 2 runs in the 6th and another pair in the 7th but Seward would answer with runs of their own in both frames and the score was 13-9 after 7 complete innings of play. The scoreboard would not be used again as Tyler Hill came on in relief of Michael Alger in the 7th and would close the game out for Seward, allowing just 1 Barton hit in his 2 1/3 innings of work while picking up his 1st career save in a Saints uniform. In the end, the game featured 32 hits including 17 from Barton and 15 from the Saints. Seward was led offensively by Tomlinson, Grant, and Bruce who all finished the game with 3 hits as well as Dawson who knocked in 3 runs and Campbell and Glime who knocked in a pair each. Seward reliever Michael Alger picked up the win out of the bullpen going 4 1/3 innings allowing 4 runs and 8 hits through the middle innings while Barton starter Landon Fall was tagged with the loss after lasting just 2 innings, giving up 8 hits and 8 runs while walking 5 and striking out just 1.
GAME TWO BOX
A day/night double header was in the mix for the Saints and Cougars on day two and Seward started it off well right away by scoring 2 1st inning runs on RBIís from Luke Campbell and Jordan Dallalio to put the home team up 2-0 after 1. Saints starter Hayden Holub would keep the Cougars off balance early, putting up 0ís on the board through the 4th to allow Seward to tack onto their lead in the bottom half of the inning as Chase Whitney singled home Daniel Bruce to make it 3-0 in favor of the Saints. Seward would score 3 more times in the 5th inning as Josh Dawson would single home Campbell and Kevin Domzralski would single him home and load the bases followed by a walk to Whitney to force home a run and put the Saints up 6-0 after 5 innings of play. That was the score as the teams went to the 7th and final inning and Seward sent Holub back out to the mound trying to complete the shutout for the Saints. After a single and walk to lead off the inning, the Saints right hander was pulled in favor of Paul Pulley and Barton would be able to come away with 3 late runs which werenít nearly enough as Seward went on to take game three 6-3. Holubís control could only be described as effectively wild in the win as the sophomore Texas Tech signee went 6+ innings allowing just 3 hits while walking 4, hitting 4, and throwing 3 wild pitches. On the positive side, the Saints fireballer allowed just 3 hits and 1 run while striking out a career high 9 in the win. At the plate, the Saints had solid games from Campbell and Dallalio who finished with 2 hits apiece and Whitney who ended the contest 1 for 2 with 2 RBIís.
GAME THREE BOX
On to game four it was for the two teams as the Saints looked to complete their 2nd Jayhawk West Conference sweep of the season and the Cougars looked to salvage just one win after being on the road for 14 hours in two days after driving back and forth to Great Bend between the two double headers Monday and Tuesday. The Saints would again bring their big boy bats in game two of the double header as they strung together 5 straight hits in the 2nd inning with RBI knocks from Todd Glime and Chase Whitney and a bases loaded beanball of Quay Grant to put themselves up 3-0 after two under the lights. Barton would get their leadoff men on in the 3rd and 4th innings and would cash both of those runners in to cut their deficit to 3-2 but Seward would get back to scoring in the bottom half of the 4th thanks in big part to a 2 RBI gap shot double from Jordan Dallalio to push their lead out to 6-2 after 4. The Cougars would score for the third straight inning in the top of the 5th but Saints starter Jose Gonzalez would limit them to just the one unearned run as he kept his team in front 6-3 after striking out Levi Schlick on a beautiful slider to end the Barton threat in the 5th. Neither team could scratch out a run through the middle innings as night began to fall and the score remained 6-3 in favor of Seward as the teams went to the bottom of the 8th inning. A two out error by third baseman Ryan Busboom would extend the inning and the Saints would make it hurt as Grant looped an RBI single into center to give Seward a 7-3 lead and a little bit more breathing room going to the 9th. With two out and nobody on Barton would stage a mini rally against Saints fireman Tyler Hill but they would only get as close as to having the tying run on deck as Hill would induce a groundout to end the threat and give the Saints the 7-4 win and the four game sweep. Gonzalez went 7 strong innings for Seward allowing just 2 earned runs while striking out 6 Barton hitters to pick up his 2nd Jayhawk West win of the season while Hill stepped into the closers role for the second straight day and picked up his 2nd save of the series by going 2 innings and allowing just 1 hit and 1 run. All but one Saints starter had a hit in the contest including 2 hits apiece from Kelby Tomlinson, Quay Grant, Josh Dawson, and Todd Glime. Grant drove in 3 runs on the day while Dalallio knocked in a pair with his RBI double in the 4th.
GAME FOUR BOX
The Saints now sit atop the Jayhawk West Conference with an 11-1 mark and bring themselves back above .500 overall on the season at 15-14. Their next action will come Saturday and Sunday when they will travel to Dodge City to take on an upstart Conqs team who has already picked up 5 Jayhawk West wins after winning just 9 games in the conference all of last season.