Last season, the Seward County Saints fell one game short of the NJCAA World Series. This season, it appears at least, that the Saints are ready to make another run and this time hopefully get one game further. That quest started this weekend at Brent Gould Field as Seward County hosted one of four sub-regional tournaments across the state and the Saints defending their home turf with a 6-5 win over Labette and 11-5, 19-7 wins over Colby to advance them through to the Region VI Championship Tournament in Wichita this weekend.
The top ranked Saints took on the 8th seeded team from the East, the Labette Cardinals in a game that most would have already advanced the Saints in their bracket before the game was started. Unfortunately for Seward fans, the Labette Cardinals were ready to make the most of their first trip to the Regional Tournament in 5 seasons and they werenít going to go down without a fight. Seward got behind right off the bat as J Hensley doubled in Robert Kizer with two outs in the first to make it 1-0 Labette. The Saints took their first lead of the game in the bottom of the 2nd inning when Luke Campbell was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and Todd Glime walked behind him to set up an RBI situation for Jordan Dallalio and the Saints designated hitter came through with a single through the hole at short to score Glime and move Campbell to third. Daniel Bruce followed up Dallalioís hit with a RBI groundout to score Glime and the Saints were up 2-1. The lead wouldnít be Sewardís lead for long as a two out routine groundball turned into an adventure that would eventually cost the Saints 3 runs and put them behind 4-2. The Saints would manufacture a run in the 5th inning after Kelby Tomlinson was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and Quay Grant singled behind him before Campbell would hit a sac fly to score Tomlinson and cut the Cardinal lead to 4-3. After Seward reliever Michael Alger put up a zero in the next half inning for Labette, the Saints would get right back to the scoring as Ty Jacobs and Dallalio would reach to start the frame and Bruce would clean the bases with a single up the middle to put Seward up 5-4. Alger would keep the game there with 1-2-3 innings in the 7th and 8th but in the 9th would give up a one out double and subsequent single to score the run and tie things up at 5. Labette closer James Gerheardt would stay in the game in the 9th and would commit a cardinal sin of baseball as he walked Tomlinson to lead off the inning. After a flyout, Josh Dawson drew a walk from the Cards pitcher and Seward was in business with runners on first and second with just one out. An infield single from Campbell would load the bases for the Saints and set up a game winning situation for Sewardís hottest hitter of late Todd Glime. After taking the first pitch low, Glime laced a single to right, over the drawn in infield to give the Saints the 6-5 walk off win. Seward escaped the first round while being outhit 12-7 by the Cardinals and committing an error that cost them 3 unearned runs. Grant and Dallalio led the way with 2 hits a piece while Bruce did the majority of the damage for the Saints out of the 9 hole with 3 RBIís on the day. Saints starter Cameron Maldonado went 4 innings, allowing just 1 earned run while Alger came out of the bullpen giving the Saints a very strong effort, going 5 innings while picking up the win, allowing 1 run and 5 hits while punching out a pair.
Next up on the docket for the Saints was a team that they were very familiar with, having played them four times the previous weekend, the Colby Trojans. After an inauspicious start in the 1st inning for Colby after their first two hitters were retired, they took advantage of a two out walk and a subsequent double to threaten in the 1st. With two on and two out, Jess Cooper sent a 2-2 offering up into the wind and out of the park to stun the home crowd and put the Saints down 3-0 before they had their first at bats. The Saints wouldnít wait long to get it back however as Kelby Tomlinson, Quay Grant, and Josh Dawson would load the bases with nobody out and Luke Campbell was hit with a pitch to bring in the first run and Todd Glime would poke a single to score 2 and the score was quickly tied at 3. Each team would strand a runner on third in the 2nd and Colby would pick up another two out hit in the 3rd to take the lead back 4-3. Jordan Dallalio would get the Saints 4th inning going with a single and after a groundout to advance him to second, would score on a two out single from Tomlinson to tie the game at 4. The Saints werenít done scoring in the inning though as Grant walked to the plate to the tune of Space Cowboy and promptly ignited the first pitch he saw over the center field fence to put the guys in green up 6-4. Both teams went in order in the 5th and a Daniel Bruce RBI single would put the Saints up 7-4 as the teams went to the 7th. Thatís about when things got very interesting. With one out the Trojans were able to load the bases with three consecutive singles to chase Seward starter Logan Hall out of the game. With Matt Edwards at the plate 1 for 2 with an RBI in the game, the Saints backs were to the wall as Colby sent the go ahead run to the plate with just one out. On reliever Paul Pulleyís first pitch to Edwards, the Trojans tried to pull a rabbit out of a hat as they attempted a rare bases loaded hit and run. After Edwards swung and missed at the pitch, the Colby runners were hung up all over the bases and the Bad News Bears base running clinic was on. Saints catcher Todd Glime was somewhat shocked when he stood up with the ball in his right hand as the runner on first was nearly to second and the runner at second was nearly at third, while the runner on third didnít look like he was going anywhere as he was just a few feet off the bag. Glime wisely threw the ball to the first baseman Dawson who chased the trail runner to second and then threw the ball to the third baseman Grant who tagged out the runner trying to go from second to third. The story isnít over; the runner that started on first but had made it to second decided for some reason he was going to try to reverse paths and go back to first and Grant took the opportunity to throw a strike to second baseman Ty Jacobs to tag him out and end the inning! So after your routine 2-3-5-4 double play, Colby went from having the go ahead run at the plate to being out of the inning and giving Seward all the momentum in the world. It was evident which way the tides turned in the Saints half of the 7th as Dawson walked to lead off the inning and Campbell singled behind him to put two on and no out in the frame. Glime then came up and did the only thing he knows how to do against Colby and that is drive in runs as he punished the first pitch he would see from Terry Steiner over the left field wall for a 3 run home run to put the Saints up 10-4. After another inning ending double play for Colby in the 8th, this time a more conventional 5-4-3, the Saints added another run in the bottom of the 8th with a leadoff home run from Tomlinson that left the park before the shortstop could even leave the batterís box. With everything but the final score decided, Colby added a lone run in the 9th inning but would still fall 11-5 as Seward County advanced to the final game of the Sub-Regional with the win over the Trojans. The Saints offense much like many games in the past week and a half, by Todd Glime who finished the contest 2 for 5 with 5 RBIís and a run scored. Tomlinson and Grant combined at the top of the Seward order to go 5 for 9 with 5 runs scored and 4 RBIís while Dawson and Dallalio also did their part with 2 runs scored apiece. Hall picked up the win on the mound, going 6 1/3 innings allowing just 4 runs while striking out 5 and walking just 1. Pulley earned his third save of the season, working 2 2/3 innings and giving up just 2 hits and 1 run.
As the Saints watched on Saturday evening following their win over the Trojans, Colby beat Neosho County for the second time in as many days to earn the right for a rematch with the Saints in the final game. For the Saints, it was a draw that I am sure they didnít mind, being that they had beaten the Trojans 4 times by an average of 9 runs per game in the past week while the Trojans felt they had nothing to lose, going to the final game with a chance to dethrone the home team after finishing just 5th in the Jayhawk West Conference regular season standings. The Saints faced a rarity when they began the game with the Trojans as they would hit first as the visiting team on the scoreboard for the first time this season on their home field. It didnít seem to bother them much as they started right where they left off on Sunday by scoring 3 runs in the 1st inning with RBI knocks from Josh Dawson, Todd Glime, and Ty Jacobs to make it 3-0 Seward after a half inning of play. Aritz Garcia would get one up into the wind and it would carry out to start the Colby 1st and after 1 it was 3-1 Saints. Seward would get 2 more in the 2nd inning on RBI singles for Quay Grant and Luke Campbell, their second hits in as many innings to make it 5-1 Saints. Colby would chip away with two runs in the 3rd and another in the 4th and after 2 runs in the 5th, took a 6-5 lead on Seward after 5. If you read the game recap above and thought that the bases loaded hit and run was crazy, wait until what happened next. Trailing by one in the 6th, the Saints picked up a leadoff single from Jordan Dallalio and after a strikeout, would have Dallalio on first with one out and their nine hole hitter up. Still a pretty comfortable situation for the Trojans but that would soon change. Daniel Bruce would triple to tie the game and it would start one of the most memorable innings in Seward County history. After Bruce tripled, and Tomlinson singled behind him to give the Saints the 7-6 lead, an error and a pair of walks would load the bases for catcher Todd Glime, the Trojans worst nightmare. After all, the Saints backstop had 5 home runs and 11 RBIís against them in five games in the past week. Letís just say Colby Head Coach Ryan Carter will not be sending Glime a Christmas card this year as Glime laced a 1-0 pitch over the right field wall for a grand slam to blow the game open 12-6. Seward wasnít done, in fact they werenít even close to done as the next nine batters would reach base with RBI hits coming from Dallalio, Bruce, Grant, Dawson, and then Glime again to put Seward County up 19-6 after a 14 run 6th inning which saw 19 batters come to the plate. Five Saints scored 2 runs in the inning and three had 2 hits in the frame including Glime who had 6 RBIís in the inning. Maybe even more amazing is the fact that Dallalio made his way to the plate three times in the inning, leading it off and finishing it while going 2 for 3 with 2 runs scored. Colby used five pitchers in the inning with three of them failing to get an out while combining to give up 10 runs. Colby would get a run in the bottom of the inning and load the bases with nobody out but a double play and a strikeout would kill the threat and give the Saints the 19-7 run rule victory. The box score for this one is definitely one to look at as seven Saints had multiple hits, 6 had multiple runs, and 4 had multiple RBI games in the win. Tomlinson finished 2 for 2 with 4 runs scored while Grant had a perfect day going 4 for 4 with 4 runs scored and 3 RBIís. Dawson picked up a hit, 2 runs, and 2 RBIís and Campbell scored a pair of runs and had 2 hits. Jacobs had 2 hits with an RBI and a run scored while Dallalio had the 2 hits and 2 runs in the 6th along with an RBI in the game. Bruce finished the game with 2 hits, 2 runs, and 2 RBIís but the story of the game was Glime who finished 3 for 5 with 7 RBIís including the 6th inning grand slam to start the madness. Glime finished his six games against Colby this season with 6 home runs and 18 RBIís after posting just 5 home runs and 24 RBIís in the 40 games previous to that this year. Jose Gonzalez battled the elements for 4 2/3 innings on the mound and gave way to Paul Pulley who picked up the win and then Michael Alger who came in in the 6th to close the door on the run rule win.
With the win of the sub-regional the Saints advance to the Region VI Championship Round in Wichita this weekend where they will take on the winners of the Johnson County/Hutchinson, Garden City/Cowley, and Butler/Coffeyville matchups on Tuesday. Sewardís first game will be Saturday at 3:00 against either Cowley or Garden City and will then either play at 1:00 Sunday with a win or 6:00 Saturday with a loss. The winner of this weekendís tournament at Lawrence Dumont Stadium will be crowned Region VI Champions and will represent the Jayhawk Conference at the NJCAA World Series in Grand Junction at the end of the month.