It will be a game that many Seward County Saints players, coaches, and fans will have a hard time swallowing. The #7 Saints, playing as one of six teams remaining in the 2011 Juco World Series had leads of 5-0, 8-3, and 9-5 but could not hold on as their #16 counterparts, the Potomac State Catamounts put up crooked numbers in four of five innings through the middle innings of the game, all with two outs to come away with a 12-11 win to end the Saints season. Seward finishes in 6th place at the big dance but will forever have the “what if” stuck in their heads after the one run defeat.

The elimination game matchup between the Saints and Catamounts started uneventfully as both teams went down without a threat in the 1st. In the 2nd it was a different story as the Saints, like they had in their previous three World Series games, got on the board first. They scored their first run as Tyler Hill walked to get things going and was wasn’t out there for long as Jordan Dallalio drilled a triple off the left center field wall to score him and make it 1-0. Dallalio wasn’t a duck on the pond for long either as Jon Mestas stepped to the plate behind his triple and flicked a single up the middle to bring him home and quickly put Seward ahead 2-0. Later in the inning the bases were loaded for Willy Gustin and the Saints left fielder did what he had been doing all year and that is coming up with big hits, hammering a double off the chalk in left field to plate two more runs and give the Saints a 4-0 advantage. In the 3rd Seward added to their lead courtesy of Dallalio when the Saints 2nd baseman stayed on a 2-0 fastball and drove it out of the park the other way for a solo home run to make it 5-0. Potomac fought back in the bottom half of the inning as they put up three runs after being down to their last strike in the inning. A triple deep to left center on a 1-2 count gave them their first run of the day and a 1-2 double to the same spot scored another to make it 5-2. Seward still couldn’t find that third out as Zack Markell singled up the middle to score their third run of the inning and cut the lead to 5-3. Then it was the Saints turn to put together some dramatics on the offensive end and Brittain Ibbotson and Tanney Rainey did their part as the two started the inning drawing free passes on a hit by pitch and a walk to put two on for Jake Barrios. On a 2-2 pitch, Barrios ripped a line shot to left center field that Catamount center fielder Jake Ringold made a diving attempt at but came up empty and the race was on. Ibbotson and Rainey came around to score easily and as Barrios approached third, Galen McSpadden was giving him the green light to round and head home and that is just what he did, reaching the plate without a throw for a three run, inside the park home run to put Seward on top 8-3. It looked as if the Saints now had the snowball rolling in their direction but again with two outs and nobody on the Catamounts changed that. A double off the left field wall put a runner on ahead of Alan Filauro and the Potomac catcher fell behind in the count 1-2 before igniting a two run home run over the left field fence to bring his team to within three at 8-5. The shoving match continued in the 5th as Mestas doubled to start the Seward top half and scored two pitches later when Eddie Williams singled up the middle to make it 9-5. The Saints continued to pressure, putting runners on second and third with one out but back to back ground balls to the shortstop failed to get the job done and the score remained 9-5. After an out on the first pitch of the bottom of the inning, Potomac got two straight hits to put runners on the corners with one out. A great defensive play by Seward first baseman JT Bean in foul territory turned into a sacrifice fly to score a run but the Saints kept a 9-6 lead with two outs now in the inning. However, the Catamounts continued to fight with two outs, getting an RBI double to chase starter Logan Hall from the game before a walk and an error on the infield loaded the bases for Potomac State. Struggling through the Catamounts first two games of the tournament, Filauro made up for it in this spot as he smashed the first offering he saw from reliever Keegan Hucul off the wall in deep center field to clear the bases and give Potomac State their first lead of the game at 10-9. Trailing for the first time in the game, the Saints wouldn’t remain behind for long as Bean narrowly missed a home run to lead off the top of the 6th and settled for a triple before being driven home by Hill to knot things up at 10 apiece. Hucul made quick work of the ‘Mounts in the bottom of the inning and to the 7th they went with the score deadlocked at 10-10. Williams again led off a Seward inning with a good at bat to start the 7th with a walk and moved over on a ground ball by Henke to give the Saints two shots at getting him home from second with one out. After a strikeout to put two outs on the board, Gustin came up big again, ripping an 0-1 pitch to deep center field to bring Williams home and again put the Saints on top 11-10. Barrios was then hit by a pitch and a deep drive by Bean to the right field wall again narrowly missed a home run and was caught to keep it a one run game. Two quick outs were recorded as Potomac came to hit after stretch time but the pesky Catamounts wouldn’t give up. A four pitch walk put a runner on in front of Filauro and he again delivered with a deep shot to the wall to tie the game at 11 and later scored on another double to put the ‘Mounts up 12-11. Hill walked to start the Saints 8th but after being moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, was doubled off on a line drive to second base to end the threat. Looking for insurance in the bottom half Potomac loaded the bases but Gustin came in from left field to extinguish the fire and keep them off the board to keep it a one run game into the 9th. The 9th didn’t start exactly as the Saints had hoped as two batters up, two batters down had them clinging to life with their final out before elimination. However, Rainey stepped up and calmly lined a ball into the outfield for a single on the first pitch he saw and was followed by Gustin who did the same to put two on for the Saints. But, Seward again couldn’t match what the Catamounts did with two outs and left the two stranded after a strikeout to end the game and their season with a 12-11 loss.

Potomac State scored all 12 runs in the game with two outs and tagged Hucul with the loss out of the Saints bullpen. The Saints had 12 hits in the game including a 3 hit, 3 RBI game from Gustin and 2 hit games for Rainey, Dallalio, and Mestas. Barrios drove in 3 with his only hit of the contest and Hill was on base 3 times via walk but finished officially 0-1 to bring his 20 game hitting streak to a stop as the season came to a close.

The Saints historic run ends at 46-20 overall and puts them as the 6th place finishers at the Juco World Series. The 2011 Seward club is the first in school history to win two games at the event and was unquestionably the fan favorites in Grand Junction with their baseball card sets being the only ones sold out of the 10 teams in the classic. At the time of their exit they have more doubles, home runs, and RBI’s as a team than any other team in Junction and have a number of players atop the tournaments statistical charts. Gustin has more hits (7) than any other player while Hill’s 8 walks also put him on top of that category. On the mound, Paul Pulley is the only pitcher to have thrown a 9 inning complete game thus far and his .235 opponent’s batting average is a tournament best.
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