The Seward County Community College baseball team moved into first-place in the Jayhawk West Conference on Saturday afternoon with a doubleheader sweep against Garden City Community College at Brent Gould Field in Liberal. The Saints won 5-4 and 12-11, behind a strong pitching performance from sophomore Eric Everson in game-one, and two grand slams from sophomores, Tanner Rindels and Erik Hegstad, in game-two. The Saints are now in sole possession of first-place in the Jayhawk West and own a tie-breaker over both second-place Butler Community College and third-place Garden City Community College. Seward improves to 31-19 overall and 18-8 in the Jayhawk West, while Garden City falls to 28-18 overall and to 13-9 in league play.

Saturday’s sweep also gives the Saints 31 victories for the season, marking the 15th straight season Seward County has won over 30 games, and the 18th season in head coach Galen McSpaden’s career at SCCC.

With the wind blowing out to left field throughout the doubleheader, game-one turned out to be a pitching dual between Everson and Broncbuster starting pitcher, James Katsaros. Everson, the sophomore lefty from Westminster, Colo., won the match-up throwing five innings, allowing five hits, three runs (no earned) and collecting four strikeouts.

The Saints offense scored their first run in the third inning and scored three additional runs in the fourth. Seward had their first two runners on base after back-to-back fielding errors by Garden City, before Kai Kirby singled to right field and Stu Schlemeyer hit a single to left field, giving the Saints a 4-0 lead.

Seward County brought in relief pitcher, Karl Whitley, after Everson exited in the sixth inning following a lead-off double. Whitley held off Garden City’s rally. GCCC scored two unearned runs on two hits in the sixth inning and Whitley finished off the Busters in the seventh inning, picking up his first career save.

Rindels led the Saints going 2-for-3, and Whitley finished with one strikeout, allowing three hits, one run (no earned) in two innings pitched.

Game-two had a total of 23 runs scored, 22 base hits, six home runs, five errors (all from GCCC), and a total of nine pitchers who entered the game.

The Saints trailed by as many as five runs (7-2 after three innings) but then took their first lead, and then scored what would end up being the winning run in back-to-back innings with grand slams from Rindels and Hegstad.

The left-handed hitting Rindels hit a two-run line-drive homer to right field in the third inning, and then gave the Saints their first lead with a grand slam to the opposite field (left field) in the fourth inning. Rindels, who leads the Saints in home runs with 11 and is tied for the team lead in RBI with 47, went 3-for-4 with three runs scored and collected a career-high six RBI. Rindels has been the Saints top hitter over the last eight games batting .500 (13-for-26) with nine runs scored, three doubles, one triple, five home runs and 19 RBI.

The Saints used a two-out rally in the fifth inning to put Hegstad in position to win the game at the plate. Austin Roff reached base with a single to left field, then Kirby and Schlemeyer got aboard by receiving hit-by-pitches. Hegstad then hit the game-winning grand slam over the left field fence, recording his 10th home run this season.

Seward County started Jordan Knight and brought in Curtis Hamilton in the opening two innings, but neither pitcher could slow down the Garden City offense, as the Busters scored seven runs off the two left-handed pitcher in the opening two innings. Saints relief pitcher, Tyler Binkley, had his best outing of the season and collected his first career win by throwing four innings and allowing five hits, one earned run, one walk and posting a career-best five strikeouts. Whitley pitched 1.1 innings in relief to claim his second save of the day.

Seward County has six remaining regular season games remaining including their final home doubleheader of the season on Sunday, April 22 at 3 p.m., hosting Barton County Community College for a 3 p.m. scheduled first-pitch.