An early season Jayhawk West Conference series could not get much bigger than the one that the Seward County Saints and Butler Grizzlies had on tap for this weekend. Butler came into the set 9-3 in the Jayhawk West while Seward entered at 5-3 just two games back. The stage was set, the Saints sweep and they are in first, win three of four and they are tie for first, any less than that and they would remain chasing the Grizzlies for first.
Game one started as the Saints planned, a 1-2-3 inning in the top half and a pair of singles and an RBI groundout to take a 1-0 lead in the bottom half of inning number one. The 1-0 score held until the third when the Saints defense faltered to allow four unearned Butler runs. The Saints took no time to battle back and tie the score as a Travis Parker home run and an RBI groundout from Quay Grant tied the score at 4. Neither team managed a run through the middle innings until the 6th where Butler strung together four consecutive singles to put a 2 on the scoreboard and take a 6-4 lead. Then with two outs in the Grizzlies half of the 7th, a costly drop from the Saints was eventually cashed in for two Butler insurance runs to extend the lead to an insurmountable 8-4 Grizzly advantage. Seward County sent ace Corey Collins to the hill in game two of the double dip and he held the Grizzlies to just one run in the first three innings while inducing six ground ball outs and two strikeouts through the first three frames. Collins effort on the hill let the Saints get off to a 5-1 start after three including leadoff home runs in both the first and 2nd inning by Keegan Morrow and Billy Ninemire respectively and a 2 RBI single from Luke Campbell. Butler evened the score with a trio of singles in the 4th and a two out two run home run by Grizzly DH Steve Jensen in the 5th. The game wouldn’t be tied for long however as Campbell collected his third and fourth RBI’s of the day on a double down the left field line to give the Saints the 7-5 advantage. Butler mounted a comeback in the 6th loading the bases off of Collins but fireman Travis Parker came in to put out the flames with back to back strikeouts and pitched a scoreless 7th to give the Saints the 7-5 win and pick up his fifth save and lock down Collins’ fifth win on the year. The Saints sent Austin Terhune to the mound in game three of the series in a weather delayed Sunday matchup against the Grizzlies in which he picked up his first collegiate victory against last season. Butler struck first in the 2nd inning with a pair of runs but Seward would do some scoring of their own in the 3rd thanks in part to a Jared Broadbent leadoff home run and a pair of RBI singles from Campbell and Mikel Huston to take a 3-2 lead. Ninemire clubbed his second home run of the weekend high over the center field fence to give the Saints a 4-2 lead in the 4th but Butler would score a run in the top of the 5th to make it a one run game. Ninemire struck again in the 5th with a sacrifice fly to plate Campbell and stretch the Seward lead to 2 yet again. Terhune went out to start the 7th inning but was replaced by Parker after a leadoff single by Butler catcher Kyle Ewy. Darren Boss singled for Butler to put runners on the corners with no outs but Parker was able to strike out the next two batters to leave those runners where they stood. Grizzly second baseman Mike Garza picked up a two out single to cut the lead to 5-4 but Parker was able to induce a ground ball to third to end the game and secure the Saints victory. The save for Parker was number six on the season for him which tied him with Chase Campbell for the school’s all-time single season record. With the game one win Sunday, the Saints were set up in perfect position to put themselves into a first place tie with the Grizzlies with a victory in game two. Todd Glime singled in Huston in the second inning to give Seward a 1-0 lead early which looked safe into the third after Ninemire had retired the first seven Butler hitters in order. That success however, wouldn’t last as the Butler bats awoke to the tune of six straight singles and a string of 10 straight Grizzly batters reaching base without an out recorded. At the end of the forgettable inning for the Saints, Butler racked up 11 runs on nine hits as four different Seward pitchers would toe the rubber in the inning with little success. Butler tacked on a run each in the 4th and 5th to take the 13-3 advantage and hand the Saints the run rule loss. “I can’t ever remember getting beat like that at home” Head Coach Galen McSpadden said. “We have to have somebody step up on the mound in relief and late in a series or we are going to continue to struggle” he added. The Saints have lost their last six games in the final game of a series including all three Jayhawk West finales thus far. The split sends the Saints to 18-10 and 7-5 in the Jayhawk West Conference. They now sit in a three way third place tie with Colby and Garden City with the group trailing Hutchinson by 1 game and Butler by 2 games in the standings. The Saints will take their show on the road next weekend as they travel to Great Bend to take on Barton County who sits just 1 game behind them in sixth place.