A number of impressive individual performances led the Seward County Community College baseball team to a Jayhawk West doubleheader sweep over Barton County Community College on Saturday afternoon at Brent Gould Field in Liberal. Sophomore Tomas Cruz pitched a complete game in game one leading Seward to a 3-2 victory, and Erik Hansen and Mikel Huston combined went 6-for-7 at the plate in an 11-5 victory in game two. Seward County has won nine-straight games, and continues to lead the Jayhawk West Conference with an 11-3 league mark and a 20-12 overall record. Barton County began the weekend series tied for second place, but drops to 16-13 overall and to 11-7 in conference play.

Seward County scored all three of its runs in the opening two frames in game one. The Saints scored a run in the first inning off a throwing error by the Cougars catcher, and they received RBI singles in the second inning from sophomore catcher David Masters and Huston to take a 3-2 lead.

Cruz allowed an unearned run in the first inning and a run on four Barton County hits in the third inning, before locking down the Cougars the rest of the way. Cruz, who improves to 6-2 this season with a 1.45 earned run average, only allowed three base runners the rest of the game as he notched his team-leading fourth complete game of the season.

The 5-foot-10 right-hander from Amarillo, Texas, has recorded 48 strikeouts while issuing only three walks this season. Cruz has also averaged 9.97 strikeouts/nine innings pitched.

Freshman Caleb Nine led SCCC at the plate going 2-for-3 with two doubles. Huston and Masters each finished 1-for-3 with a RBI.

Hansen had a career game in game two going 3-for-4 with six RBI, a double off the top of the wall and two home runs, in a game where five home runs left the ball park. After sophomore Michael Drzazga scored the first run of the game hitting his first home run of the season, Hansen hit a line drive double off the top of the center-field wall to plate three runs giving Seward County a 4-0 lead.

The Cougars led off the fourth inning with back-to-back doubles by Clayton Karst and Blaine Clark, who both later scored cutting the Saints lead to 4-2.

Hansen led the charge in the bottom of the fourth as the Saints scored three additional runs. Hansen homered to left field, freshman Kade Kauk singled and Huston doubled to left field to start the rally. Sophomore Will Gowdy hit a sacrifice fly to score Huston giving the Saints a 7-2 lead.

Sophomore Christian Kowalchuk pitched a strong game for the Saints earning his fourth win of the season (4-2), throwing six innings, allowing six hits, five runs (four earned), three walks and striking out five batters.

Seward put the game away in the fifth inning scoring four runs, as Hansen hit a two-run homer, and Masters blasted a two-run shot over the left-field fence. Huston scored his second run of the game in the fifth inning, after hitting his second double of game two.

Huston went 3-for-3 with two runs scored, and Masters finished 2-for-4 with a run scored and two RBI for the Saints in game two.

Seward County and Barton County will complete their four-game conference series on Sunday, March 30, with a 1 p.m. doubleheader at Brent Gould Field.

NOTES:
Kowalchuk has now won 12 games in his two-year career at Seward County. With his next victory, Kowalchuk will join the top 10 all-time in Saints’ history for career wins, tying him for eighth place with Dustin Griffith (2000-01), Zack Beutner (1995-96) and Darin Thomas (1985-86) who all won 13 games while playing for the Saints.

Hansen began the season batting .211 after the Saints first 10 games, and since has raised his batting average 171 points while batting .439 (25-for-57) with six doubles and 14 RBI over the last 22 games. In addition, Hansen has collected at least one base hit in 18 of the Saints last 22 games overall.

Perhaps the hottest player for Seward County over the last week has been freshman Mikel Huston. Since starting in center field for the Saints the past five games, Huston has recorded a .688 batting average (11-for-16) with nine runs scored, five doubles, six RBI, four multi-hit games and two stolen bases. Huston is leading the Saints this season with a .481 batting average in 13 games played.

During the Saints current nine-game winning streak, Seward County has six pitchers with an earned run average under 1.59… the Saints’ hitters are batting .372 as a team, with seven batters hitting above .371… the Saints have belted 33 extra-base hits, while holding their opponents to only 15 extra-base hits… and the Saints are fielding .952, committing 14 errors in nine games played.