As soon as you stepped into historic McDonald Stadium this weekend in El Dorado during batting practice you knew it was going to be a weekend for offense. With ooh’s and aah’s abundant during the hitting practice and balls flying over the wooden wall with regularity, it was relatively obvious that it wasn’t going to be a day that any pitcher fantasized about stepping to the mound on. After 51 hits and 8 home runs on the weekend, the Saints returned to Liberal with a series win and a 7-1 Jayhawk West Conference record.
Seward sent Wichita State transfer Cameron Maldonado to the mound in game one of the series after the sophomore posted 16 2/3 straight scoreless innings to start his Seward County career. He got some help early in game one and after Kelby Tomlinson was drilled in the head by a Connor Sinclair fastball to lead off the game, he later came around to score on a gap shot double from Luke Campbell to put the Saints ahead 1-0 before Butler grabbed their bats. A throwing error by third baseman Brett Macari would lead to 2 Seward runs in the 2nd inning and the Saints found themselves up quickly 3-0. Maldonado’s scoreless inning streak would come to an end just short of 19 as Butler scored three times in the 3rd inning to tie the game after a mishandled ground ball started a Grizzly rally. The offense really got going in the 5th as Seward scored 4 times on three hits to open the inning and a 2 RBI double from Ty Jacobs put the Saints up 7-3. Butler answered in the bottom half of the inning with a 2 run home run from Macari and a two out RBI single from catcher Seth Wheeler made the game 7-6 in favor of Seward. The Saints didn’t like the feeling of being too close to the guys in purple and therefore scored 4 more runs in the 6th inning after home runs from Quay Grant and Jacobs as they pushed back out to a 11-6 lead. Paul Pulley stopped the Butler offensive momentum in the bottom of the 6th with a scoreless inning and allowed the Saints to score three more times in the 7th on a 3 run shot over the center field wall from Campbell to make it 14-6 Seward. Butler’s Kyle Kinman would lead off with a solo home run in the 7th but it was fall to little to late as the Saints went on to win 14-7. Maldonado moved to 3-0 on the season with the win while Pulley picked up his 2nd save of the week with a 2 2/3 inning effort to close the game. The middle of the Saints lineup was deadly as their 2-5 hitters combined to go 11 for 20 with 7 RBI’s in the win. Campbell finished 3 for 5 with a pair of doubles and the home run to go along with 4 RBI’s while Jacobs ended the contest with a double, a home run, 3 runs scored, and 4 RBI’s as well.
Unfortunately for Butler, the Saints weren’t out of juice in the back end of the double header as they raced out to a 4-0 lead in the 1st inning capped by a 2 out Ty Jacobs bases clearing double to again give them an early advantage. The Saints would blast away again in the 2nd as this time a Jared Broadbent 3 run home run was the big blow as Seward put up a 5 spot and buried the Grizzlies in a 9-0 hole. Butler would score an unearned run in the bottom of the inning but that was quickly outdone by a Kevin Domzralski bomb and a Kelby Tomlinson double and run scored as the Saints took an 11-1 lead. JC Ochoa would hit a solo shot in the 3rd for the Grizzlies but Seward would get 2 more in the 5th after Tomlinson led off with a triple and was driven in by Quay Grant who was then knocked home by Josh Dawson to make it 13-2 Saints. That was all Seward starter Logan Hall would need as he pitched around a leadoff single in the 5th to put up a zero and give the Saints the 13-2 run rule win after 5. Tomlinson finished 4 for 4 with 4 runs scored and was just a home run away from the cycle in the win while Dawson picked up a trio of hits with a pair of runs driven home in the clean up slot. Ty Jacobs continued his hot hitting with 2 hits and 3 RBI’s in the game.
After 27 runs and 31 hits on Saturday, runs would not thought to have been at a premium Sunday afternoon as the same two teams wrapped up their series with another double header at McDonald Stadium. Butler would score first for the first time in the series as a leadoff single and a Seward error helped create a run and the Grizzlies were up 1-0 after 1. Seward answered in the top of the 2nd as David Morgan walked and Kevin Domzralski drove him home with 2 outs to tie it up at 1. Butler would score 3 unearned runs in the 4th with 2 outs to go up 4-1 and the Saints simply couldn’t get their bats going for the rest of the 7 inning contest. A two out solo home run from Luke Campbell and a lonely two out single from Kelby Tomlinson in the 7th was all the Saints would muster in the last three innings as they fell by the eventual count of 5-2. Seward’s Hayden Holub went the distance allowing 2 earned runs on 8 hits but did come out of it with a positive in 5 strikeouts to just 1 walk, a problem that plagued the right hander last season. The Saints picked up just 4 hits in the game after pounding out 17 and 14 in wins Saturday.
Seward looked for the series win and Butler looked for the series split in game four in a game that much more closely resembled Saturday’s matchup than Sunday’s game three. The Saints left 6 runners on in the first three innings of the final game of the series and allowed Butler to score the first run without putting the ball in play in the 3rd. RBI singles from Kevin Domzralski, Luke Campbell, and Jared Broadbent paced a 4 run attack in the 4th but the Grizzlies quickly answered with 2 of their own in the bottom of the inning and the Saints lead was just one after four, 4-3. Butler would take the lead in the 5th after a pair of mishandled balls by the Saints but Quay Grant would knot the contest up at 5 a side with a solo home run to lead off the Saints 6th inning. Campbell would again deliver the big blow for the Saints in the 7th on his second three run bomb of the weekend as Seward went on to score 5 7th inning runs and take a 10-5 lead at stretch time. Todd Glime would knock in Ty Jacobs and Jordan Dallalio with a single in the 8th to add a pair of insurance runs for Seward in the 8th and two Butler runs in the bottom of the 9th wouldn’t be nearly enough as the Saints went on to win 13-7 in another slugfest. Michael Alger picked up the win in relief of Jose Gonzalez for the Saints, going 4 1/3 allowing just 2 earned runs. Campbell was again the star at the plate for Seward, going 4 for 6 with a double and a home run in the win. Glime and Domzralski did an admirable job at the bottom of the Seward order, driving in a combined 5 runs in the win.
The 3-1 weekend moves the Saints to 7-1 in the conference and puts them at 10-8 overall on the season. Seward will now face their toughest task to date as they travel to #3 Howard this weekend to take on a Hawks team that went 62-1 last season for a 4 game weekend set. They will then take on Rose State in Oklahoma on Tuesday before returning home next weekend as they jump back into conference play against Barton on Saturday and Sunday at Brent Gould Field.