It is a rare day for any college baseball program at any level to say that their bullpen is their strength. This weekend at Brent Gould Field the Seward County Saints could in fact say that, as they got gutty performances out of their pen in three of four games of a crucial early season series with second place Butler to take home the series win and retain their position at the top of the conference standings.

The Saints would get a walk off win in game one 6-5 but would falter in game two of the series as a 9-4 lead went by the wayside in a 13-11 loss. Sunday it was all Seward however as the Saints won game three 6-2 and would take game four 10-9 on another walk off hit to take home wins in three out of four and win the series against the Grizzlies.
Butler would get on the board first as a one out double and stolen base set up an RBI groundout for the Grizzlies to make it 1-0. The teams would trade zeros back and forth until the bottom of the 4th inning when a two out error by Butler would allow the Saints to extend the inning and Eddie Williams would make the Grizzlies pay with an RBI double to the left center field gap to tie the game at 1. Seward starter Logan Hall would wiggle his way out of a jam in the top of the 5th and the Saints would respond as they got a 2 RBI double off the bat of JT Bean and another 2 RBI double from Jon Mestas later in the inning to take a 5-1 lead. Hall would struggle in the 6th inning though as with two outs he would allow four straight singles and before Seward had time to get a reliever warm, the Grizzlies had tied the game at 5. With runners on second and third and two outs Keegan Hucul would come in to get a pop up and end the inning with the game still tied up at 5-5. The bottom of the 6th would see the Saints go in order but Hucul would keep the Grizzlies in check as well, registering a 1-2-3 7th with a pair of strikeouts to keep the game deadlocked. As the game threatened to go to extra innings if the Saints couldnít score, Bean would get things going for the guys in green with a one out double to give Seward two cracks at getting a run home. Butler would intentionally walk Tyler Hill to put two on and one out but after a strikeout it looked as if things might be headed to bonus baseball. Mestas would then be hit by a pitch to load the bases and on the third pitch he would see, Williams would line a single through the hole on the right side to score Bean and give the Saints a walk off 6-5 win. Williams would finish with a career high 3 hits and 2 RBIís in the win while Bean provided some help in the middle of the Saints order with 2 hits in 4 chances while driving home 2 and scoring 2 runs. Hucul would earn the win by throwing 1 1/3 innings of perfect relief while striking out 2.
The back end of the double header would be a shootout. Butler would go down in order in the 1st while the Saints would load the bases before leaving them chucked without scoring to end the inning. The Grizzlies would get back to back two out hits in the 2nd to score a run but Seward would respond with 4 in the bottom of the frame to go up 4-1. Jordan Dallalio would do the bulk of that damage with a two out bases loaded double to score 3 before Hill took advantage of a two out Butler error to extend the inning with an RBI single of his own to put Seward up 3. Butler would again do their damage with two outs in the 3rd inning as a single and a double with two away would turn into a run to make it a 4-2 game. A Butler error would start the Saints engines in the 3rd as Kyle Henke would rip an RBI double to left center and later in the inning Tanner Rainey would drive him home to make it a 6-2 game. The Grizzlies would keep plugging away though and would take advantage of a pair of walks to get another two out hit to score both free passes and again close to within two at 6-4. The Saints looked to regain control in the bottom of the 4th inning as they got three straight two out hits from Bean, Henke, and Williams to go ahead 9-4 but the Saints would leave the bases loaded at innings end and it would come back to haunt them later on in the game. A forgettable 5th inning for Saints fans would see Butler score twice without the benefit of a hit as a walk, two hit by pitches, and an unforced error would plate the two runs and again put the Grizzlies back into the game at 9-6. Seward would be chopped down in order in the 5th and Butler would take the lead as four straight hitters reached with one out, scoring one run, and then the big blow came as third baseman Michael Patman took Austin Beisel deep for a three run shot to put them up 10-9. Seward couldnít turn two hits into anything in the bottom of the 6th and it would remain a one run game as Butler went down in order in the top of the 7th to keep it a 10-9 game at stretch time. Seward would manufacture a run in the 7th to tie the game at 10 as Rainey laid down a perfect bunt single to start the inning and was sacrificed over to second before scoring on an RBI single from Jake Barrios to knot the game up. The game would not remain tied for long though as Butler continued their onslaught of Saints pitching in the 8th inning as they sent 12 men to the plate, scoring 3 runs to go ahead 13-10 before leaving the bases loaded as the inning came to a close. The Saints would get a run back in the bottom of the 8th as Bean walked with one out and would come around to score on a two out single from Rainey after the inning was lengthened due to a Butler error. For the third time in the game though, the Saints would leave the bases loaded as the inning came to a close and would remain down by two, 13-11 as the teams entered the 9th. Bryce Ruff would shut the Grizzlies down in the 9th with a 1-2-3 inning while Seward would get the tying run to the plate with two outs in the 9th after an error but would fittingly strikeout for the seventh time in the game to end the inning and fall 13-11. The Saints would outhit the Grizzlies 14 to 13 in the game but would leave 16 runners on in the two run defeat. Rainey would lead the offense at the top with a 3 for 5 game with 2 RBIís and 2 runs scored while Bean would also have 3 hits in 5 tries while driving in 1 and scoring 3 runs. Williams, the game one star would have his second straight 3 hit game as he went 3 for 5 as well with an RBI. Henke would finish a nice afternoon with 2 hits, 2 RBIís, and 3 runs scored while the only bright spot on the mound for the Saints would be Ruff who went 1 1/3 perfect innings to close the game.
Early on in game three of the series, the Saints would have one of their worst nightmares come true as they came into the game with a badly depleted bullpen and saw their starter Paul Pulley leave after just three batters with a cut and blister on his pitching hand. Ty Thomas would come in and end the inning for Seward and they would respond by getting the freshman lefty a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning on RBIís from Hill and Mestas to give the Saints an early 2-0 lead. Butler would get single runs in the 2nd and 3rd to tie the game but the Saints would bounce back with another 2 spot in the bottom of the 3rd as Dallalio walked to start the inning and Barrios pounded the first pitch he would see over the left field wall to make it 4-2 Seward after 3. After a 1-2-3 inning by Thomas in the 4th, the Saints would get him a little bit more support as two Butler throwing errors would start the inning for Seward and with two outs Dallalio would drive in a pair with a double to short right center field to make it 6-2 in favor of the home team. That would be more than enough for Thomas who would allow just one hit to the final 17 hitters he would see, blanking the Grizzlies in the 5th, 6th, and 7th innings to give the Saints a 6-2 win. The Seward lefty would earn the win while going 6 1/3 innings of surprised relief after he was called to action in the 1st inning without as much as stretching out in the bullpen. The top of the Saints order did all of the damage in the game as the top four hitters in the lineup had all 7 hits while their 5-9 hitters combined to go 0 for 11. Barrios hammered out 3 hits in 4 chances while driving in 2 and scoring 2 and Dallalio would also pick up 2 RBIís and 2 runs scored on 2 hits.
With either a series win for the Saints or a road split for the Grizzlies on the line in game four of the series it was Butler who jumped ahead early in a big way. The Grizzlies would score 4 times in the 1st and once in the 2nd against Seward to take a 5-0 lead before anyone had broken a bead of sweat. The Saints would fight back in the bottom of the 2nd though as a one out home run by Ben Wainwright would score two runs and RBI knocks later in the inning from Rainey and Dallalio would quickly make it a one run game at 5-4. In an odd twist of events, the Saints would call Pulley from their bullpen early in game after Athletic Trainer Liz Nosbisch did a number on the rightyís finger between games to get him ready to pitch in the finale. Pulley would put up zeros in the 3rd and 4th to keep it a one run game but the Saints would not get anything going and the score remained 5-4 as the teams went to the 5th. The teams would trade runs in the 5th inning as Butler got a two out RBI single from Seth Wheeler and the Saints got the same from Hill to make it 6-5. An error by the Saints would cost them a run in the top of the 6th and they would waste a bases loaded, one out situation as the inning would come to an end on a double play and see them down 7-5 heading to the 7th. Pulley would pitch around another Seward error in the 7th to keep Butler from scoring and the Saints would strand two more runners in the bottom of the inning to remain down two. Pulley would work into the 8th before being removed after 84 pitches but Hill would make the move from right field to the mound flawlessly, getting a ground ball double-play as soon as he came in to end the threat and keep the score 7-5. In the Seward 8th, the first three hitters of the inning would reach ahead of Barrios who would greet Brennan Murphy with a bases clearing double to the right center field wall to give the Saints their first lead of the game at 8-7. Later in the inning the Saints would score again as Hill would add an insurance run for himself with an RBI single to put the Saints ahead 9-7, for which he would oh so desperately thank himself for in the 9th. In the top of the 9th, Patman would leadoff with his second home run of the series to make it a one run game but Hill would settle down to get the next two hitters to ease the tension in the air in the Seward dugout. With two outs, the Grizzlies would call on Darahn Williams from their bench, an interesting choice as he entered the at bat with a sub .230 batting average and was 0 for 8 in the series to that point. Williams however, made the stats irrelevant as he blasted the first pitch he would see far over the right field wall for a solo home run to tie the game up at 9 apiece. That is where the score would stay into the bottom of the 9th as the Saints looked for their second walk off win of the series. Things wouldnít start good for Butler as their shortstop would compound a leadoff fielding error with a throwing error behind it to set the Saints up with a runner on second and nobody out. Seward would then send up a pair of lefties in a tough matchup against the ĺ armed Murphy and the Butler lefty would ring up two straight Saints looking as Seward flipped the lineup over with two outs. With two outs and Williams on second, Rainey would line the second pitch he would see up the middle for a single and Williams would turn his afterburners on as he chugged to the plate where he slid in to score the game winning run as the Saints won the finale and the series in a 10-9 decision. Hill would earn the win on the hill in relief, giving the Saints wins from their pen in all three victories in the series. He helped himself out at the plate as he finished with a team high 3 hits and 2 RBIís while Rainey and Dallalio set the table at the top of the Seward order, each going 2 for 3 and combining for 3 RBIís and 3 runs scored. Ibbotson pitched in at the bottom of the Saints lineup as well, going 3 for 5 with a stolen base and a pair of runs scored in the win. Pulley would receive a no decision in a gutty performance for Seward. The Saints sophomore would go 5 2/3 innings, allowing just 4 hits and 1 earned run while receiving a no decision in the contest.
The series win moves the Saints to 20-12 overall on the season and 9-3 in Jayhawk West Conference play where they come out of their four game set with the second place Grizzlies still leading the conference race by a full game. They will enjoy a much needed week off as they try to heal some injuries and just take a minute to breathe after playing 14 games in a 9 day stretch before taking the field again on Friday and Saturday when they will head to Great Bend to take on a Barton Cougars team expected to contend for the conference title with the Saints and others before seasons end. Double Headers both days will start at 1:00 and all four games are expected to be carried live on