After a disappointing showing in an early week series against Barton County in Hays, the Seward County Saints Baseball Team knew it was make or break time in this weekend’s series with visiting Dodge City. The Saints sat at an unfamiliar 8-8 record in Jayhawk West play but only two games out of the conference lead going into Saturday’s game with the Conquistadors. With the wind howling out of the yard Saturday afternoon, Seward fell behind early 1-0 on a windblown home run by Dodge center fielder Cody Lunsford. The Saints showed they weren’t going to let the Conqs come onto their home field and push them around however as they bounced back with a rocket shot, three run home run from Jared Broadbent in the bottom of the 2nd to take a 3-1 lead. The Saints added three more in the 3rd inning on RBI singles from Luke Campbell and Josh Dawson to take a 6-1 lead half way through game one. Seward would capitalize on a two out error by Dodge shortstop Jorden Johnson in the 4th as David Cruz would wrap his 2nd home run of the season around the right field foul pole to take a seven run lead. That would be more than enough for Saints starter Bobby Doran who pitched a complete game, picking up his second straight conference win and fifth win on the season in the 9-3 victory. Doran struck out 8 Conqs while failing to walk a man in his 7 innings of quality work in the game.
Seward would fall behind again in the first inning of game two after Dodge City leadoff man Taylor Doan singled and was later knocked in by Mike Schnedar to take the 1-0 lead. To put it mildly, that 1-0 advantage wouldn’t last long. The Saints stormed back for an 8 spot in the bottom of the first as six straight batters reached base against Conq starter Kyle Neufeld who was chased after just 2/3rds of an inning. In the inning, Seward received RBI knocks from Campbell, Mikel Huston, Broadbent, and Keegan Morrow to take the seven run advantage. The Saints scored one in the 2nd and 5 more in the 3rd on a three run shot by Travis Parker and RBI hits from Broadbent and Trent Martinez. Corey Collins would pick up his 6th victory of the season as he pitched a complete game for the Saints allowing just five hits in the 17-3 win.
Sunday’s scheduled games were pushed back to Monday due to poor weather conditions but unfortunately for the Conqs it didn’t slow down the Seward County attack. The Saints scored in the first two innings of Monday night’s matchup thanks to RBI’s from Cruz and Tanner Woods. Dodge battled back for a run of their own in the 3rd to cut the lead to 2-1 where it stayed until the bottom of the 5th. Seward plated a pair on a bases loaded walk to Huston and a sacrifice fly from Martinez to take a three run advantage. Saints sophomore pitcher Austin Terhune quickly retired the side in the top of the 6th and allowed the Saints to score 6 runs in the bottom of the inning to push the lead to 10-1. In the inning the Saints saw RBI triples from Parker and Martinez as well as a two out RBI double from third baseman Quay Grant. Terhune came out and retired the Conqs in the 7th to pick up his 3rd win on the year in the 10-1 victory for the Saints.
Dodge saved their number one starter Stephen Leddy for game four against the Saints but little did the Conqs know, the Saints had an ace up their sleeve as well. Seward sent Kevin Schutlz to the mound for the nightcap Monday after an impressive two inning outing Tuesday against Barton County which had run his innings pitched total on the season to 5 2/3rds. Schultz made Head Coach Galen McSpadden more than happy with his decision setting down the first 8 Dodge hitters he would face. The Saints however, weren’t able to capitalize on their early inning opportunities after having a runner at second and third and no outs in the first and a runner on third and one out in the second failing to score. Schultz was cruising when in the 3rd inning with two outs his control eluded him as he loaded the bases on a pair of walks and a hit batter. He wriggled out of that jam by inducing a pop up to right field to end the threat and the inning. After a quick 1-2-3 inning for the Saints hitters in the 3rd, Schultz again created some drama in the 4th by hitting the Dodge leadoff man followed by the first Conq hit of the day, a bloop single by 1st baseman Javier Alvarado to put runners at 1st and 2nd with nobody out. Schultz struck out shortstop Jorden Johnson but then walked Scott Absher to load the bases with just one out. The sophomore righty dug his cleats in and decided enough was enough and punched out the next two Dodge hitters to keep the game tied at 0. The stand jumpstarted the Seward offense as they took advantage of a two out walk and a stolen base as Mikel Huston laced a single to left field to score Trent Martinez and take the 1-0 lead. Schultz was done messing around with the Dodge offense and shut down the Conqs in order in both the 5th and 6th to keep the 1-0 lead. Quay Grant singled with one out in the bottom of the 6th and a walk to Martinez moved him to second. That’s when Huston struck again with an almost identical single to left to score Grant and give the Saints an insurance run to lead 2-0. McSpadden then took the ball from his star of the night and gave it to closer Travis Parker who looked to break the school’s all-time single season saves record if he was able to lock down the win. He did just that, pitching around a walk to strike out a pair and pick up his 7th save of the year in the Saints 2-0 victory. The one hit gem spun by Schultz and Parker completed the sweep for the Saints and brought them to 23-13 overall and 12-8 in the Jayhawk West Conference. Seward will now host Luna C.C. in a non-conference double header Wednesday at Brent Gould Field before returning to conference action this weekend against Garden City. Instead of playing Saturday evening and Monday afternoon at Garden City, the Saints and ‘Busters have moved their series to Friday afternoon and Saturday afternoon with both double headers starting at 1:00 p.m. The series is a crucial one for both teams as Garden currently sits tied atop the conference standings with Colby at 13-7 while Seward sits in a third place tie with Hutchinson just one game behind at 12-8.