With first place on the line in Garden City this weekend, the Seward County Saints Baseball team traveled North in search of the Jayhawk West’s throne with just two weekends remaining in conference play. The Saints started slow Friday afternoon failing to score in the first three innings while Garden was able to squeak across an unearned 2nd inning tally to take a 1-0 lead. Seward opened the 4th inning with three straight hits from David Cruz, Travis Parker, and Luke Campbell to score a pair of runs and with two outs Jared Broadbent laced a single up the middle to take a 3-1 Saints lead. Garden responded with a run of their own in the bottom of the 4th but Seward quickly answered that with back to back doubles in the 5th by Cruz and Parker to hold their 2 run advantage at 4-2. A leadoff walk and three straight hits for the Broncbusters in the 5th tied the game at 4 heading to the 6th. That’s when Mikel Huston ignited his third home run of the season over the right-center field fence, into a stiff breeze to give the Saints a 5-4 lead. Trent Martinez and Quay Grant picked up hits behind Huston and with two outs Keegan Morrow squeezed a ball through the right side to put the Saints up 7-4. That’s when Seward starting pitcher Bobby Doran dug in his cleats and shut down the ‘Buster bats for the 6th and 7th innings to give the Saints the win tying them for first place in the West with the victory.
Game two would, unfortunately for the Saints, be a very different story. Seward would go down in order both of the first two innings while Garden capitalized on 6 hits for 2 runs off Saints starter Corey Collins. A 3rd inning triple by Jared Broadbent and subsequent sacrifice fly from Todd Glime would cut the Garden lead in half at 2-1. The ‘Busters would add to their lead in the 3rd as their first four hitters reached and three scored to stretch their lead back out to 5-1. A 4th inning home run by Luke Campbell would chip back into the Garden lead but the Saints failed to take advantage of a runner on third with just one out in the 5th as they left Broadbent stranded on base after in infield popup and ground out to third. The teams traded runs in the 5th and 6th but Seward was never able to put a crooked number on the board and fell 6-3. Jared Wagner pitched well for the Saints in relief of Collins as he went the final four innings allowing just 3 hits and one unearned run in the defeat.
Saturday was a new day and another opportunity for the Saints to find themselves in first if they were able to return to Liberal with two wins on the afternoon. The Saints early inning struggles continued as they went in order at the plate in both the 1st and 2nd innings while Garden took advantage of subpar defense from the Saints to score runs in both innings and take a 2-0 lead. Another blank in the top half of the 3rd set Garden City up for an explosion of offense in the bottom half of the inning as they scored 4 runs on 4 hits, a walk, and a hit by pitch to take a 6-0 lead. Seward would remain scoreless through the 4th, 5th, and 6th while Garden tacked on a trio of runs to build their lead to 9-0. Josh Dawson and Todd Glime picked up 7th inning RBI hits but the two runs weren’t nearly enough as the Saints fell 9-2 in game one.
The Saints staked to a 1-0 lead in game four of the series with the ‘Busters as Mikel Huston and Kelby Tomlinson singled to open the game followed by a RBI groundout from Travis Parker to score Huston from third. Kevin Schultz looked to turn the Saints tide on the mound and tossed a scoreless first, working around a two out bean ball to keep the score at 1-0. Keegan Morrow singled in Billy Ninemire in the 2nd to make the lead 2-0 but it would be short lived as Garden bounced back for a pair of runs in the 2nd and one in the 3rd to take a 3-2 lead after three. The Saints again lulled through the middle innings and allowed Garden to break the game open with a 6 spot in the 5th courtesy of three hits and four free passes to take a 9-2 lead. With the rain picking up in the 6th, Garden added another run to make it 10-2 when the game was called due to poor field conditions. The series loss to the ‘Busters was the first time in 3 years that the Saints would have a losing record to their rival from the North. The losses drop the Saints to 26-16 overall and 13-11 in Jayhawk West Conference Play, good for a 5th place tie with Barton County. While the losses severely hurt the Saints chances of a 2009 regular season Jayhawk West title, they still remain just 3 games back of Garden and Colby who are tied for first. The Saints will travel to Clarendon for a non-conference double header with the Bulldogs Wednesday before returning home Saturday and Sunday to Brent Gould Field to take on Hutchinson in a critical four game set with the Dragons.