The Seward County Saints got a much needed Jayhawk West Conference series win against the rival Garden City Broncbusters this weekend at Brent Gould Field in Liberal, taking 3 out of 4 from the Busters to take over first place in the Region VI standings. On Saturday the Saints used a pair of spectacular pitching performances from sophomores Keegan Hucul and Gavin Glanz to lead them to 2-1 and 4-3 and on Sunday the Busters took game three of the series 6-2 before Seward came back to take the series finale 12-7 behind a 4 hit game from Jake Barrios to claim the series.

The defending Jayhawk West Champion Saints and the current West leader Busters hit the diamond Saturday afternoon in a crucial midseason series for both teams. Seward scored first in the opener as Carlos Dorado and Kevin Domrzalski singled to start the 2nd inning and a sacrifice fly from Wainwright drove Dorado in to make it 1-0 Saints. Saints starter Keegan Hucul cruised through the next three innings to keep the Busters off the board but Seward couldnít add onto their lead and it remained a 1-0 game into the 6th inning. Garden City got a leadoff hit to start the 6th and a poor decision by the Saints in the outfield allowed Buster right fielder Alex Buechler to reach third base with nobody out. A deep sacrifice fly from Desmond Roberts on the next pitched allowed Buechler to score and the score was tied at 1-1. Looking to take the lead back the Saints were denied by Buster pitcher Brenton Higgens in the 6th as he sat Seward down 1-2-3 but Hucul was able to keep his counterparts from getting anything going in the top half of the 7th and as the Saints came to hit in their final at bats it was still a nip and tuck game tied at 1 apiece. Johnny Griffith was hit by a pitch to start the Seward 7th and a sacrifice bunt from Tanner Rainey moved him to second. Then, one of the more comical plays in Brent Gould Field history happened as Steven Polito ripped a pitch at Garden City shortstop Zac Baldini who was unable to handle the hot shot as it went off of him into the outfield. Griffith looked as if he was going to score easily as he rounded third and headed for home when he slipped on the turf midway between third and home plate. As he was scrambling to get back to third, Garden City centerfielder Mason Fischer dropped the ball as he attempted to pick it up and Griffith again changed directions and crossed the plate for the game winning run to give the Saints the 2-1 victory. Hucul went the distance to earn the win for the Saints on the hill, allowing just 3 hits and 1 run in his 7 innings of work. Rainey was the only player to have more than one hit in the game as he finished 2 for 2 with a walk while Wainwright and Dorado each had a hit and scored a run.
Seward used their momentum from their game one walk off win right on into game two as they jumped on top early 3-0 in the bottom of the 1st behind an RBI double from Jake Barrios and a two out RBI single from Domrzalski. Garden City caught the Seward defense shifting around with a runner on second with a ground ball through the hole on the right side to get one run back and that was all the offense for a while. Each team managed just one single each through the 3rd and 4th innings as the Saints held onto a 3-1 lead into the 5th. The Busters broke the offensive silence in the 5th with two outs as a Seward error extended the inning and allowed Garden City to score a pair of runs to tie the game up at 3. There was nothing going through the middle innings as Saints starter Gavin Glanz and Buster righty John Houston kept the hitters at bay and into the 7th inning the game went knotted at 3. Garden City put two on in their half of the 7th but Glanz got out of the pickle to keep the score tied while Buster reliever Cory Kibler sat down Seward in order after stretch time. Glanz had maybe his best inning of the afternoon in the 8th as he breezed through the middle of the Buster order in just 10 pitches to allow his team a chance to take the lead in the bottom of the frame. A one out single from Barrios and a Garden City error put two on with one out in the inning in front of the Saints leading RBI man Willy Gustin who came through once again with a double to right center to score Barrios and put Seward County up 4-3. As par for the course for Glanz, the Oral Roberts signee continued to get stronger as the game went along and backed up a perfect 8th inning with a 1-2-3 9th to close the door on Garden City and give Seward the 4-3 win. Glanz went the distance, allowing just 1 earned run while striking out 5 to earn his 12th career victory in the green and white. Garden City actually outhit Seward in the game 7-6 and the only Saint to have more than one hit in the game was Barrios who finished 2 for 4 with 2 runs and an RBI.
As April hit on Sunday, the Busters wasted no time in taking their first lead of the series, putting together a couple of hits and capitalizing on a Seward error to take a 1-0 1st inning lead. Early on the Saints had no answer for Garden City southpaw Todd Brazell who kept Seward off-balance through the first 3 innings to keep his Busters in front 1-0. Garden City added to their lead in the top half of the 4th , getting a key two out hit from Fischer to plate two to go on top 3-0. The Busters really took control in the 5th as they put together four hits, including two with two outs to score three runs to take a 6-0 lead over the Saints. To their credit the Saints responded in the bottom of the inning with a couple of runs as Barrios went off the top of the left center field wall for an RBI triple and Dorado backed that up with an RBI single to make it 6-2. Seward reliever Garret Smith kept the game right there, blanking the Busters in the 6th and 7th innings put Seward couldnít take advantage as they managed just a lone two out single in their final two trips to the plate and fell by the 6-2 final. All eight runs in the game were score with two outs and each team finished with 10 hits but it was the Busters that made theirs count in the victory as both Dakota Kell and Fischer finished with 2 RBIís in the win for Garden. Polito, Dorado, and Sam Pack each had 2 hits for Seward who saw just one leadoff hitter reach base in the game. Tyler Wiedenfeld picked up the loss in 4 2/3 innings of work while Smith went 2 1/3 scoreless to finish things out for Seward.
Game four felt like a must win for both teams as Seward and Garden hit the field for the series finale. Seward desperately needed a series win after dropping three of four to last place Dodge City last weekend while the Busters needed the win to split the series and remain atop the conference standings. Each team had traffic in the 1st but couldnít push across a run and Garden City had two on with nobody out in the 2nd but werenít able to tally a run to keep the game scoreless after 1 Ĺ. In the Seward 2nd, the Busters committed an error to start things off an a single from Dorado scored the gameís first run to make it 1-0 Saints. With two outs Diego Cruz coaxed a walk and Francisco Bolanos lined a double down the left field line to score two and make it 3-0 in favor of Seward as well as chase Buster starter Anthony Mastroni. Garden loaded the bases with just one out in the 3rd as they looked to respond to the Saints three run inning but they couldnít get the big hit as they did in game three and had to settle for just one run to make it 3-1. A leadoff double by Barrios in the Saints 3rd was followed with a Gustin single to drive him in to quickly push the lead back to three at 4-1. Seward continued to add on as Ben Wainwright single to start their 4th and Tanner Rainey flicked a double into left center to score him to make it 5-1 after 4. The first four Busters of the top half of the 5th inning reached base with the big blow coming on a 2 RBI triple from Cody Kottich to make it 5-3 but Garden the Saints got a spectacular play from Bolanos on a diving catch and subsequent throw out of Kottich at the plate to keep the score right there. Barrios singled to start the Saints 5th and Dorado was plunked with a pitch with one out. Head Coach Galen McSpadden pulled his string and pinch hit Domrzalski with the wind blowing out and showed why he has won 1,050 times in this game. Domrzalski sent a 2-0 pitch towering over the left field fence for a three run home run to tack on to the Saints lead to make it 8-3. Garden got a run back in the 6th on a single from Roberts to make it 8-4 but quickly the Saints were back at the plate and making more noise. Rainey reached on a bunt single to start things and Polito single behind him to put two on for Barrios. After falling behind in the count 0-2, Barrios launched a double off the left center field wall to score Rainey and Polito to make it 10-4 and scored himself on a single from Dorado to make it 11-4. The teams traded runs in the 7th as the Busters got theirs on an RBI groundout from Kevin Czarnecki while Seward got theirs on a frozen rope solo home run off the bat of Rainey to make it 12-5. Both teams went 1-2-3 in the 8th and Garden City got two runs back in the 9th and had the tying run in the hole but Griffith finished things off to give the Saints a 12-7 win to take the series. The Saints pounded out 16 hits in the win including a 4 for 5 game from Barrios who had 2 doubles and 2 RBIís in the victory. Rainey had one of his best games as a Saint, reaching base all five times for Seward, going 3 for 3 with his first home run of the season as well as walking and scoring twice. Dorado had 2 hits, 2 RBIís and scored 2 runs while Bolanos and Domrzalski combined for 5 Saints RBIís. TJ Looney earned the win, going 7 innings and allowing 5 runs while striking out 4 while Mastroni was tagged for the loss for Garden as he lasted just 1 2/3.
The series win not only gets the Saints back to the .500 mark on the season at 19-19 but more importantly vaults them to the top of the Region VI standings. The Saints now sit at 11-5 in Region VI action, one game ahead of Colby who is 8-4 and two games ahead of 7-5 Hutchinson. In the Jayhawk West standings Seward is in a 3rd place tie with Garden City at 12-8 with the Trojans and Dragons leading the way at 11-5. Seward will hit the road Wednesday for non-conference action at Clarendon before returning to Jayhawk play this weekend on Friday and Saturday when they go to Hutchinson for yet another key four game set with the Dragons.