Playing in conditions fit for Southwest Kansas, with a warm sunny day turned foggy by dust particles flying all around due to the 40 mph winds, the #7 Seward County Saints got a gutsy performance from sophomore right hander Paul Pulley on the mound and a 10 hit attack from their offense to come away with a 5-1 win against the #12 Southern Union State Bison Sunday afternoon at the Junior College World Series in Grand Junction.

Things were scoreless after two innings of play until the Saints broke through with a pair of runs in the top half of the 3rd. With two outs in the inning Tanner Rainey hit a towering fly ball off the end of his bat that sliced down the left field line until it clipped off of the foul pole above the double fence and bounced back into play. With confusion on the field all around, Rainey got caught between first and second base while Southern Union left fielder Tanner Drennan threw the ball back into the infield as to play it as a live ball. Rainey eventually dove into second ahead of the tag from Bison second baseman Nathan Knight but third base umpire Glenn Ballangao correctly signaled that it was a home run and Rainey would trot the rest of the way to put the Saints first run of the game on the board and give them a 1-0 lead. The two out masters kept up the pressure later in the inning as Willy Gustin singled and Jake Barrios walked in front of an RBI double from JT Bean down the right field line to plate Gustin and put Seward ahead 2-0. Saints starter Paul Pulley worked his way out of a mess in the bottom of the inning and his hitters responded with two more runs in the top of the 4th on RBI singles from Rainey and Barrios to pad their lead to 4-0. Pulley held the Bison hitless through the next two innings but the Saints could not capitalize, stranding a runner in the 5th and two more in the 6th to keep it 4-0 going into the 7th . Each team had a lone single in the 7th and stranded the baserunners at first and with two innings to go before one of the teams had to make an early exit from the tournament, the game remained 4-0 in favor of the Saints. In the top of the 8th the Saints loaded the bases without getting a ball out of the infield as Steven Polito walked to lead off the inning, was sacrificed to second by Rainey and made his way to third with one out after back to back infield singles from Gustin and Barrios. Bean didnít waste any time in getting the run home as he hit the first pitch he would see for an RBI groundout to make it 5-0 Seward. Pulley worked around a leadoff single in the 8th by Bison centerfielder Bruce Jackson, who had three hits in the game, to keep it a 5-0 game into the 9th. Seward was retired quickly in their half of the 9th and Pulley returned to the hill in the bottom of the inning looking to close out the win. Pulley found himself in trouble with one out as the bases became loaded on a single, a walk, and an error before losing his shutout bid with a wild pitch over everyone behind the plate to make it a 5-1 game. Thatís when the righty bowed his neck and stepped up to the occasion, getting his first strikeout of the game to record the second out of the inning and got a groundball to second base to finish things off and give Seward the 5-1 win.

Turning in the finest pitching performance of the tournament by any starter thus far, Pulley pitched all 9 innings for the first time in his Seward County career, allowing 8 hits and just 1 run to move to 8-3 on the season. The top of the Seward order did most of the damage on offense as each of the first three hitters in the lineup finished with 2 hits including Rainey who was 2 for 3 with 2 RBIís, Gustin who was 2 for 5 with a run scored, and Barrios who was 2 for 3 with an RBI. Bean drove in 2 runs from the four hole and Polito, drawing his first start of the postseason was on base in 3 of 5 chances at the bottom of the lineup.

The Saints survive to see another day while picking up their 45th win of the season in the process. Seward is now 45-19 overall and will square off with upstart South Georgia at 10:00 am on Monday morning in another elimination game.

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