The Seward County Saints reminded the Pratt Beavers this weekend at Brent Gould Field that no matter how improved you are, the road to the top still goes through Liberal in the Jayhawk West Conference. The Saints took game one 7-4 and finished the day one sweep with a 6-4 game in the nightcap of the double header and followed that with a 2-0 win in game three and a come from behind 8-7 win in the series finale to finish the series sweep.

The Saints started game one of the series out with a bang as Tanner Rainey send the third pitch he saw sailing over the right center field wall for a home run to put them up 1-0. The Saints added another run later in the inning when Kevin Domrzalski came through with two outs with a single through the hole to make it 2-0. After southpaw Keegan Hucul kept the Beavers off the board in the 2nd and 3rd innings, the Saints pounced on Pratt, putting together four hits to score four runs, including a bases clearing double from Ben Wainwright to make it 6-0. A pair of walks and a two out single cost the Saints a run in the 5th as Pratt made it 6-1 and the Beavers pieced together four singles in the 6th to plate three more and make it 6-4. After a leadoff single in the 6th for the Saints by Rainey, a Pratt error put two on for Jake Barrios who delivered a single to center field to bring Rainey home for an insurance run to make it 7-4. Willy Gustin came on for Seward in the 7th and the knuckleballing lefty got himself in a little bit of trouble with a walk and a single to start the inning but got the next three hitters including a strikeout to put the exclamation point on a 7-4 win for the Saints. Seward outhit Pratt 15 to 8 in the game and the Beavers committed 3 errors while the Saints played it clean, but Seward left 10 runners on base in their 6 innings of offense to sneak away with the 7-4 win. Wainwright had 3 hits in the game including the 3 RBI double while Rainey and Barrios each had 3 hits and an RBI in the win. Hucul earned the win on the mound, going 5 innings, allowing just 4 hits and 2 runs while tying a career high with 8 strikeouts.
Game two did not start as well for the Saints as a 1st inning error cost them a run as Pratt jumped in front 1-0. Seward bounced right back though and the first five hitters of the inning picked up base hits including RBI singles from Barrios and Dorado and an RBI double from Gustin to make it 4-1 Saints. The runs continued to flow as the 2nd inning came along and another Saints error on the infield gifted the Beavers a run to make it a two run game 4-2. Wainwright started the Seward 2nd with a hit and Johnny Griffith doubled behind him before a sacrifice fly from Rainey drove Wainwright home to make it 5-2. Both teams went quietly in the 3rd and once again an error helped Pratt to plate a run in the 4th to make it 5-3. Thatís where the score remained into the 6th when back to back doubles and a two out single gave Pratt another run to cut the deficit to 5-4. Back to back infield singles for the Saints started the Seward 7th and a balk followed by single up the middle by Barrios pushed an insurance run across for the Saints to make it 6-4. Seward starter Gavin Glanz seemed to have gotten stronger as the game went along and had a 1-2-3 8th inning before handing the ball over to Griffith in the 9th who also worked a perfect inning to close out the 6-4 win for the Saints. Seward won despite committing 4 errors and Pratt not committing any, the second time this week that they have done so after defeating Clarendon 6-5 Wednesday while doing the same thing. Glanz once again showed why he is the top pitcher in the Jayhawk West, going 8 innings, allowing just 1 earned run to pick up his 8th win of the season. Barrios led the Saints at the plate with 2 hits and 2 RBIís while Rainey, Wainwright, and Steven Polito each picked up a pair of hits in the game.
With the series pushed back a day due to weather, the Saints and Beavers played a rare Monday afternoon matinee at Brent Gould Field to wrap up the series. It was a pitchers dual early on in game three as the Saints Tyler Wiedenfeld locked horns with Landon Hallam of Pratt. Both pitchers were dialed in through the first 2 innings of action and it was a 0-0 game into the 3rd. Seward scored first as they loaded the bases without having to swing the bat as Hallam walked two and hit another to pack the sacks full. After taking the first pitch, Gustin found a hole with his next swing for a single and two runners scored to make it 2-0 Saints. It was all Wiedenfeld from there. The Saints freshman retired the first two hitters in each of the next two innings and sailed through the 5th without allowing a run to keep Seward on top 2-0. In the 6th, the Beavers were finally able to get their leadoff hitter on but two straight Wiedenfeld strikeouts quieted the threat and kept the Saints ahead 2-0. Seward could not add onto their lead in the bottom half of the inning and rapidly the teams went to the 7th with the score still 2-0. A one out double from Pratt shortstop Jared Lupo and a two out single from center fielder Skylar Angood put runners on the corners with two outs and brought the winning run to the plate for the Beavers but Seward County Head Coach Galen McSpadden stuck with his starter and Wiedenfeld rewarded him, getting ahead 2-0 before inducing a popup to end the inning and give the Saints the 2-0 win. Wiedenfeld was sterling in the win for the Saints, going all 7 innings in the complete game shutout, striking out 7 without walking a batter. Seward was outhit 8 to 4 in the game by the Beavers with Gustin getting 2 of the 4 hits in the game and the only RBIís for the Saints. The game took just 1:23 to complete, the Saints fastest game of the season.
Pratt struck first in the series finale as they looked to avoid getting swept by the Saints. They got a pair of two out hits in the 1st to go ahead 1-0 but the Saints answered with a two out run of their own on a double from Gustin to tie the game up at 1-1. This time the Beavers continued to pressure the Saints and scored twice more in the 2nd when catcher Todd Reller launched his first career home run to make it 3-1 and ignite the Beaver dugout. Pratt remained ahead by the 3-1 count into the 3rd and the teams traded 1-2-3 innings until the Saints came to hit in the 4th. Domrzalski doubled to start things off for Seward and Sam Pack singled behind him to put runners on first and third with nobody out. Wainwright scored Domrzalski with a sacrifice fly to make it 3-2 and Rainey hit another sac fly later in the inning to tie it at 3. After a two out walk put two on with two out, Barrios came up big with a double down the line to clear the bases and make it 5-3 Saints. Both teams left a runner on second in the 5th and to the 6th they went with the score 5-3 in favor of Seward. In the Pratt 6th a Seward error got the Beavers going and a walk and a single later the bases were loaded with one out. Two more hits erased the Saints lead and put the Beavers ahead 6-5 as the Saints came to hit in the bottom of the inning. Seward was not going to be denied though and they pushed right back as they put two runners on in front of Polito who stroked a single up the middle off of Pratt closer Junior Mustain to score a pair and make it 7-6 Saints. Pratt manufactured a run in the 7th to tie it but once again the Saints answered. Domrzalski worked a walk to start the inning and after a sacrifice bunt from Pack, scored on a single from Wainwright to give Seward the lead back at 8-7. Saints reliever Garrett Smith shut the Beavers down on just eight pitches in the 8th to keep it a one run Seward advantage and the Saints managed just a single in the 8th to keep the score 8-7 as the teams went to the 9th. After getting the leadoff man out, Smith had some control troubles, hitting a man and then walking another with two outs in the inning. Once again, McSpaddenís gut told him to stick with his man and that he did, choosing to leave Smith in the game despite having a right and left handed closing option ready in the bullpen. Once again the move paid off as Smith got pinch hitter Jeremy Geist to ground out to second to end the threat and the game as Seward finished the sweep with the 8-7 win. Smith earned his first collegiate win, going 3 2/3 innings, allowing 3 hits and 1 run while the offense was led by Polito, Barrios, and Wainwright, each of which had 2 RBIís in the victory.
Seward earns its first Jayhawk West Conference sweep of the season, improving to 27-21 overall and 19-9 in conference action at weekendís end. The Saints have now won 9 of their last 12 ballgames and hold a big advantage in the Region VI standings as they head into their bye weekend as they lead Hutchinson and Colby by five full games after Mondayís action. The Saints will head to Clarendon, Texas on Wednesday where they will play #10 Seminole State at 3:30.