Seward County Community College freshman catcher Luke Hardcastle drove in the game winning runs with a two-run double to left field in the Saints game-one 5-3 victory over Northeastern Colorado J.C. on Monday afternoon at Brent Gould Field. Seward County and the Plainsmen split the non-conference doubleheader, with NJC picking up the victory in game-two, 5-3. The two teams completed their four-game series after splitting the opening doubleheader on Sunday afternoon. The No. 17 ranked Saints are now 7-5 overall this season.

In game-one, the Saints broke the scoreless tie with two runs in the third inning on a Kai Kirby two-run single to left field. Hardcastle and third baseman Erik Hansen started the third inning with singles and each scored on Kirby’s single to left field. Freshman starting pitcher Nathaniel Weems cruised into the fifth inning with only allowing one run, and escaping three separate innings where he forced Northeastern Colorado to strand a total of five runners on base, including four in scoring position.

Weems reached the end of his rope in the fifth inning when NJC scored two runs (one earned) on three base hits. Weems left the game with the Saints trailing 3-2, after pitching five innings and giving up eight hits, three runs, one walk and posting five strikeouts.

The Saints offense went three-up-three-down in the fourth inning and had two runners reach base in the fifth inning on walks, but were unable to score the runs. In the sixth inning, Seward County tied the game with a RBI sacrifice fly by Michael Drzazga to center field scoring Toby Davis, and then took the lead for good on Hardcastle’s line drive double to left field.

Hardcastle led the Saints in game-one from the plate going 2-for-3 with a run scored, a double and two RBI. The 5-foot-8-inch catcher from Centennial, Colo., is now batting .278 this season with two doubles and five RBI.

Freshman left-handed pitcher Christian Kowalchuk recorded his first career save entering the game in the top of the seventh inning with the bases loaded and two outs and striking out the only batter he faced on a 1-2 pitch. Freshman left-handed pitcher Will Gowdy recorded the win throwing 1.2 scoreless innings and allowing only one base hit. Gowdy is now 1-0 with a save and a perfect 0.00 ERA in 3.2 innings of work.

In game-two the score was tied 1-1 when the Saints scored two runs on RBI singles from Kai Kirby and Stu Schlemeyer. Kirby also scored in the first inning after recording a single to center field and scoring on Toby Davis’ sacrifice fly.

NJC didn’t trail for long, scoring four runs on four hits in the sixth inning to chase Saints starting pitcher Tyler Binkley, who picked up the loss throwing 5.1 innings allowing seven hits, four runs and collecting three strikeouts. Saints reliever Tomas Cruz also pitched for the Saints allowing two hits, one run and one walk in 1.2 innings pitched. Kirby led the Saints at the plate in game-two going 3-for-4 with a run scored and a RBI.

In the four-game series, Seward County’s defense committed 13 errors in 28 innings of play, compared to Northeastern Colorado’s defense who committed five errors.

The Saints will travel to Rose State (OK) College for a non-conference doubleheader on Sunday, Mar. 4 at 2 p.m. Seward County will then return home to open their Jayhawk West Conference schedule Tuesday, Mar. 6 against the defending Region VI Tournament champions Butler Community College, for a 2 p.m. doubleheader.