For the second time in school history the Seward County Saints are headed for Grand Junction, Colorado and the JUCO World Series. Seward continued their late season run with a sweep through the Region VI Tournament where they defeated Colby 5-2 on Monday in the Championship game to punch their ticket. The Saints quest started on Saturday when they squared off with 17th ranked and tournament favorite Neosho County in Wichita. Seward got a big early lead before a Panther grand slam cut their lead to one in the 5th inning. From there on there was no more scoring until the 8th when Seward tacked on an insurance run before closing out an 8-6 win. In the semifinals Seward ran up against Garden City, a team that they handled easily during the regular season in a near road sweep and took care of them 7-3 behind a strong pitching performance from Paul Pulley and a 4 hit game from Willy Gustin. In the Championship game the Saints walked on eggshells most of the way through as Colby left 15 men on base and Seward pitching walked 8 batters but got a gutsy performance out of the bullpen from Keegan Hucul and a four hit game from Tyler Hill to bring home the Region VI Title and start the celebration on the mound at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.

Sewardís first round draw in the tournament was a tough one, as they drew the Jayhawk East runner-up and 17th ranked Neosho Panthers who had won 33 of their final 37 games of the season going into the final four. The conferenceís leading hitting team got on the board right away as leadoff man Eric Dawson reached on a single through the middle and scored with two outs as Nick Doughty sent another line drive up the box to make it 1-0 Neosho as the Saints came to hit in the 1st. Seward answered in a big way as they batted around in their first trip to the plate and scoring 4 runs with two outs in the inning when Jon Mestas singled to bring home one, Jordan Dallalio doubled down the line to score two more, and a Panther error allowed the Saints to score another and take a 4-1 lead after 1 inning of play. Seward added onto their lead in the 3rd when Tyler Hill singled to start the frame and scored on yet another two out hit, this one coming off the bat of Brittain Ibbotson to put the Saints on top 5-1. The Saints picked up one more run in the inning and took a 6-1 lead into the 4th against the Panthers. Neosho got a run back in the top of the 4th on a two out hit from Kas Sanders but Saints starter Logan Hall stranded two runners after getting a comeback to end the inning to keep Seward comfortably ahead 6-2 as they came to hit in the bottom of the inning. The Saints matched the Panthers 4th inning run when Jake Barrios tripled to right center field and was quickly driven home by JT Bean to again put them up five at 7-2. Seward got into trouble in the top half of the 5th inning when Dawson was hit to lead off the inning and back to back singles loaded the bases for the nationís leading RBI man in Adam Giacalone. Giacalone and Hall went back and forth to a 2-2 count before the big lefty launched a hanging slider deep over the right field wall for a grand slam to turn a five run game quickly into a nail biting one run affair. The score remained 7-6 as Hall then sat down 11 straight Neosho hitters to end the 5th and get through the 8th with the Saints still ahead. In the bottom of the 8th the Saints got an insurance run as Willy Gustin tripled past a diving Caleb Compton in left field to start the inning and later scored on a deep sacrifice fly from Barrios to make it 8-6. With a climbing pitch count, Hall started the 9th and got two quick outs before hitting the third batter he faced to bring the tying run to the plate. That is when Head Coach Galen McSpadden went to the bullpen to bring in Keegan Hucul who won a five pitch battle with Compton with a strikeout to end the game and give Seward the 8-6 win. Hall earned the win on the mound going 8 2/3 innings with a career high 8 strikeouts while also throwing a career high 137 pitches in the victory. Hucul picked up his second save on the season, retiring the only hitter he faced to close out the Seward win. All nine Saints starters had at least one hit or an RBI in the game, led by Gustin and Barrios who each had 2 hits and 2 runs scored and Mestas and Bean who also had 2 hits apiece with an RBI.
FIRST ROUND VS. NEOSHO COUNTY BOX SCORE
The win set the Saints up for their fifth game of the season against the rival Garden City Broncbusters. Earlier in the year the Saints took three of four from their neighbors to the North and were just an inning away from pulling off the road sweep. Neither team scored in the first two innings, each leaving a runner on in both the 1st and 2nd. The Saints used a pair of walks to begin the top of the 3rd to kick start their offense and a double off the bat of Gustin to follow brought home both runners to make it 2-0 Seward. Gustin moved to third on the throw home and scored two pitches later when Barrios hammered a ball into deep center field for a sacrifice fly to put the guys on green on top 3-0. Seward starter Paul Pulley got on a roll in the middle innings as the right hander induced a double play to end the 3rd and used the momentum to throw 1-2-3 4th and 5th innings to keep it a 3-0 Saints lead into the 6th. In the top half of the 6th Seward used a one out walk to Mestas to set the table for Eddie Williams who delivered a clutch two out knock to score the Saints third baseman and make it a 4-0 game. Garden City finally broke through against Pulley in their half of the 6th when a one out bean ball followed by an infield single put two on for Des Roberts who took the opportunity to line a double over the outstretched arms of Dallalio at second to score both runners and cut the Saints lead in half to 4-2. That is where things stood into the 8th inning when the Busters drew even closer, scoring a run without getting the ball out of the infield as the Saints walked two and hit a man before allowing a run to cross the plate on a groundout to make it 4-3. Down by a run in the 9th, Garden City turned to their usually dependable closer Tyler Rodgers to try and keep it a one run game. The plan backfired as Seward scored a run on three straight hits to start the inning and were the beneficiaries of two more runs when Rodgers walked Mestas and Dallalio back to back with the bases loaded to make it a 7-3 game. Garden didnít give up the fight as they came to hit, down by four in the bottom of the 9th however. They got a leadoff double from Zac Baldini and a walk to leadoff man Blake Brisson to bring the tying run to the on deck circle before the Saints left fielder, turned closer Gustin, got a 5-4-3 double play to end the threat and the game to give Seward the 7-3 win. The Saints got strong outings on the hill from Pulley and Gustin as Pulley picked up the win, going 7 innings of 5 hit baseball before handing the ball over to the wiry lefty who closed Garden out and got the save with 2 scoreless innings to secure the win. Gustin also led an 11 hit attack for the Saints, finishing 4 for 5 with 2 RBIís and 2 runs scored while Barrios chipped in with a 2 for 4 day with a pair of RBIís.
SEMIFINAL GAME VS. GARDEN CITY BOX SCORE
In the championship game the Saints would take on their third different opponent in three days as the Colby Trojans worked their way back through the elimination bracket to meet up with Seward for a chance to take home a title. The Saints got things off on the right note in the top of the 1st as a one out sacrifice fly from Bean put them up 1-0 and a Trojan error and two out RBI single from Mestas staked them to a 3-0 lead. Colby fought back with two out runs in both the 1st and 3rd innings and to the 4th the teams went in a one run battle. In the middle innings both teams had trouble coming up with the two out hits as Seward left the bases loaded in the 5th and the Trojans left two on in both the 4th and 5th to keep it a 3-2 game into the 7th. Seward uncharacteristically manufactured themselves a run in the top half of the 7th when Barrios singled to start the inning and scored after a sacrifice bunt from Bean and a single to right from Hill to make it 4-2. Hucul, who was in for his third inning of work out of the Saints pen, worked his way into trouble in the bottom half of the inning as after getting two quick outs via pop up, gave up a single and two straight walks to load the bases with two outs. With the tying run at second, the lefty worked his magic, getting catcher Nathan Wilson to pop out on the infield to end the threat and keep the Saints ahead 4-2. The Saints added another insurance run in the 8th inning as Brittain Ibbotson singled with one out and scored on a key two out single through the left side from Gustin to give Seward some breathing room up 5-2. In the Colby 8th a one out walk and single brought the tying run to the plate for the middle of the Trojan order but neither All-Conference pick Jon Cotter, or Jayhawk West MVP Brandon Wilson could get the job done as Cotter grounded out to third and Wilson flied out to center to bring the inning to a close with the Saints still up three, 5-2. That is where it stood into the 9th as Colby came up with their season on the line and the Saints dreams just three outs away. The first batter of the inning, Nick Bata, flew out to right field on the second pitch he saw for the first out of the inning. With two outs to go, third baseman Scott Jones struck out on a 2-2 changeup from Hucul to bring the Saints to within one out of the title. Then, with two outs and Seward players crowding the dugout openings ready to burst onto the field in celebration, Colbyís Robert Glover sent a fly ball to left field. In a play that seemed to have come right out of a movie, the ball fluttered in the air in slow motion in front of a nearly silent crowd before landing in the glove of Gustin in left field to set off a roar from the Saints fans and Seward dugout. Seward players stormed the field and met at the pitcherís mound in a classic dog pile as 34 Saints players and coaches realized their season would continue in Grand Junction at the NJCAA JUCO World Series. Hucul earned the win in the title game for the Saints, coming out of the bullpen to throw 5 shutout innings, allowing just 2 hits to close out the game. At the plate the Saints got contributions from eight of the nine players with either a hit or an RBI, led by Hill who pushed his season batting average to the doorstep of .400 with a 4 for 5 afternoon.
REGION VI CHAMPIONSHIP GAME VS. COLBY BOX SCORE
The Saints win the Region VI Tournament and punch their ticket for the JUCO World Series for the second time in school history with a record of 44-18. Seward goes an undefeated 6-0 through the tournament with wins against 5 different teams along the way. They will now await the winner of the Northern District Championship which will be either Iowa Western, John A. Logan, or South Suburban. The Saints and the winner of that three team district will play on opening night of the World Series in the prime time game at 7:30 at Suplizio Stadium in Grand Junction.