The Seward County Saints Baseball Team swept their double header at Brent Gould Field Tuesday afternoon against Pratt to end their regular season. The Saints finished 32-20 overall and 18-14 in the Jayhawk West putting them tied for 5th in the western division. By way of a tie-break, the Saints will get the #6 seed in the West and will therefore travel to Iola Saturday and Sunday to take on the #3 seed in the East, Allen County.
The Saints and Beavers series began Saturday in Pratt where Bobby Doran took the hill for his 11th start of the season. After a 1-2-3 start to the game by the Saints, the Beavers jumped on top 1-0 after having heavy traffic on the base paths but scratching just one run across. Seward fought back in the 2nd scoring a pair of runs with two out RBI singles from Todd Glime and Keegan Morrow to take the score to 2-1. The Saints scored twice more in the 3rd as Luke Campbell drove in his 50th run of the season and Quay Grant chipped in an RBI knock to stretch the Seward lead to 4-1. Doran cruised through the middle innings allowing Seward to open up the lead to 9-0 after a 5 run 4th inning and a run each in the 5th and 6th to put the game out of reach at 11-1. Doran picked up his 8th win of the season while Morrow finished the contest 3 for 3 and Kelby Tomlinson and Grant knocked in 3 runs apiece.
To put it lightly, the Seward bats would have much less effect in game two of the double header. The Saints sent Corey Collins to the mound with a sub 3 ERA while Pratt called upon Montana Prim who entered the game with an ERA of over 16. A pretty good match up on paper, unfortunately for the Saints this game was not played on paper. Pratt again jumped on top early in the contest as Ryan Laing thumped his 18th home run of the season over the right field fence to give the Beavers a 1-0 lead after one inning of play. Seward failed to score in the next three innings and Laing struck again in the bottom half of the 4th to give Pratt a 2-0 lead and then a two out double tacked another run on the scoreboard to make it 3-0. The Saints couldnít stop the bleeding in the 5th as a leadoff single from Beaver 9 hole hitter Dino Estrada turned into a run after an error by Collins to spike the lead to 4-0 in favor of Pratt. Seward scratched out a run in the 6th but it was too little too late as they fell to the 3-26 Beavers 4-1. Mikel Huston collected three hits for the Saints who were able to muster just four hits in the entire game. The loss ended any hopes of Seward playing at home during the Region VI playoffs as well as getting higher than a 6 seed for those same playoffs.
The two teams began to play Sunday afternoon in Pratt but treacherous weather conditions postponed the games there. The series was eventually moved to Liberal for Tuesday afternoon in a game that had virtually no bearing for either team in the standings. With a pair of wins, the Saints could move into a 5th place tie in the Jayhawk West but would still end up the 6th seed in the conference while the Beavers had already been eliminated from playoff contention before the day started. The games went on as planned and the Saints scored first in game three of the series as Campbell drove in David Cruz to give the Saints a 1-0 lead in the 3rd. The two teams traded runs in the 5th but Seward exploded in the 6th inning for a quartet of runs thanks in part to RBI singles from Morrow and Travis Parker to make it a 6-1 game. Pratt took advantage of sloppy Saints defense in the bottom half of the inning to cut the deficit to 6-3 with a pair of two out runs. Morrow again executed in the top half of the 7th with a sac fly to drive in Grant and give the Saints an insurance run that would come in handy later in the inning. With the Saints leading 7-3 going to the bottom half of the 7th, 8 of 9 pitches from Seward pitching failed to find the strike zone and before anyone could blink, the tying run in Jayhawk West homerun leader Ryan Laing was on deck. Saints fireman Parker traded his first basemanís glove for his pitching glove and stepped up onto the mound looking for an all-time school record 8th save. After a single to score one run, Laing stepped to the plate and narrowly got under a ball that went for a sac fly, putting the Beavers down just 7-5 with one out in the last frame. With the tying run at the plate, Parker showed why he is now tied for the all-time saves record at Seward County and holds the single season save record as he struck out the next man looking and fisted the final batter of the game to close out a 7-5 win for the Saints in game three of the series.
Looking at the final game of the series with the Beavers as a tune up for the playoffs, the Saints defiantly stumbled out of the gates in game four as they quickly went 1-2-3 in the top half of the first inning and opened the bottom half by walking the first three Pratt hitters on just 13 pitches. Jared Wagner started the game for the Saints but left after just two batters due to tightness in his arm and was replaced by Roldan Ochoa who followed suit by walking the first batter he faced. Ochoa found his groove after that minimizing the damage to just two runs after facing the bases loaded no out jam as Pratt took a 2-0 lead to open the game. Josh Dawson singled home a couple of runs in the top half of the 2nd inning to tie the score at 2, but Pratt took the lead right back in the bottom half of the inning after a 2 out, nobody on situation turned into three straight runners reaching base and a tally for the visiting Beavers. Down 3-2, the Saints scored 12 unanswered runs off Pratt pitching, led by RBI knocks from Jared Broadbent, Huston, Grant, and Parker to blow the game open at 14-3. Kevin Schultz came into the game in the 5th in relief of Ochoa and showed Head Coach Galen McSpadden some life, striking out four batters in a row after a leadoff walk and not allowing a hit in his two innings of work. The double header sweep sent Seward to 5th in the standings with a final Jayhawk West record of 18-14 as they finish the regular season 32-20 overall. The Beavers on the other hand finish their forgettable season 4-28 in conference play and 15-40 overall. Seward will now travel to Allen County this weekend to take on the Red Devils in the best of three, Region VI Tournament 1st Round while Pratt misses the playoffs for a second straight season.