The Seward County Community College baseball team opened their Jayhawk West Conference schedule on Tuesday with a doubleheader split against defending Region VI Tournament Champion Butler C.C. at Brent Gould Field in Liberal. The Saints fell to the Grizzlies 12-10 (eight innings) in game-one, with Seward County winning game-two 9-2. Butler out-slugged the Saints and took advantage of four SCCC errors to win the opener. Seward County then rebounded with a dominating win in game-two, behind a complete game pitching effort from freshman Nathaniel Weems. Seward County is now 9-7 overall and 1-1 in the Jayhawk West Conference. Butler is now 8-2 overall and 1-1 in the conference.

In game-one, it looked to be either teams game to win with Butler gaining leads and the Saints answering with big offensive innings. In the eight inning game, there were 22 runs scored with 26 base hits and nine fielding errors. Butler jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning with a three-run home run from third baseman Ryan Bohanan. Seward County came back with three runs on a two-run double to right field by sophomore Toby Davis and scoring a run on a wild pitch.

Neither team scored a run in the second inning. Then Butler recorded three runs that was sparked by four consecutive base hits, which would force Saints Head Coach Galen McSpadden to pull starting pitcher Karl Whitley. The freshman right-hander threw 2.1 innings, allowing eight hits, six runs and one walk.

The back and forth battle continued with Seward County scoring four runs in the bottom of the third inning with Tanner Rindels and Michael Drzazga each collecting RBI base hits. Butler scored three additional runs in the fourth inning and then marked a run in the fifth inning to take a 10-7 lead into the sixth inning.

Seward County refused to give in scoring three runs in the sixth inning to tie the game 10-10. The Saints were down to their last out in the sixth inning with runners at second and third base with two outs and Bo Merrell at the plate. Merrell hit the first pitch he saw through the infield and into center field to score Kai Kirby and Stu Schlemeyer to even the score.

Saints relief pitcher Eric Everson entered the game in the fourth inning and was the reason the Saints had a chance to get back into the game. Everson scattered five hits and allowed only one earned run with four strikeouts in 4.2 innings of work. The Saints sophomore lefty held the Grizzlies offense scoreless in the sixth and seventh innings to help the Saints take the game into extra-innings.

In the top of the eighth inning, Everson kept the ball in the infield against the first three batters with only one out being recorded and two batters reaching on errors by the Saints infielders. Butler made the Saints pay with a game winning RBI double by designated hitter Chad Thurman, that would score Tashland Robinson and Jay Pitschka, who each reached base in the inning on errors. The Saints then went down in order in the bottom of the inning to fall in game-one 12-10.

Davis led the Saints going 2-for-5 with a run scored and three RBI, Schlemeyer went 2-for-5 with two bunt base hits and Merrell went 2-for-4 with two RBI. Butler was led by shortstop Jay Pitschka (4-for-5), Ryan Bohanan (3-for-4, four RBI) and Chad Thurman (3-for-5 and four RBI).

In game-two, the Saints offense was effective with 13 base hits and was led by Davis who went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBI. Davis hit a line-drive two run home run to right field in the first inning to give the Saints the early 2-0 lead. Butler scored a run each in the second and third innings, but it was the Saints who pulled ahead in the third inning.

With two-outs in the third inning and Toby Davis at third base (triple), Merrell hit a groundball to Butler shortstop Jay Pitschka that he couldn’t handle that allowed Davis to score giving the Saints a 5-2 lead. Seward County capitalized with a single to centerfield from Erik Hegstad and then a two-run RBI double to right field from freshman catcher Brock Gifford that drove in Merrell and Hegstad, to give the Saints a 6-2 lead.

Hegstad finished the game going 3-for-4 and Gifford went 2-for-3 with four RBI. Kirby was the only other Saints player to record a multi-hit game going 2-for-4 with a RBI. In addition, Merrell had an amazing streak of 44 consecutive at bats to start the season without a strikeout snapped in the first inning of game-two. Merrell is one of the top Seward County hitters this season batting .354 (17-for-48) with 13 runs scored, three doubles, a triple, two home runs and 14 RBI. Merrell is leading the Saints with perfect 8-of-8 stolen bases in 16 games this season.

Weems kept a low pitch count and was aided by three double-plays in his complete game victory on the mound. The freshman left-handed pitcher threw seven innings allowing seven hits, two runs, two walks and posting two strikeouts. Weems is now 2-0 on the season with a 2.65 earned run average in 17 innings pitched.

Seward County will continue Jayhawk West competition this Sunday, Mar. 11 hosting Colby Community College for a 1 p.m. doubleheader at Brent Gould Field. The Sunday doubleheader was originally scheduled to be played at Colby C.C., but due to inclement field conditions the two teams have swapped home dates with the Saints now playing in Colby on Sunday, April 15 at 2 p.m.