Sophomore Tomas Cruz pitched six shutout innings as the Seward County Community College baseball team won its 2008 season-opener against Western Nebraska Community College, 6-0, on Monday afternoon at Brent Gould Field in Liberal. The No. 25 ranked Saints finished the day with a doubleheader split, dropping game-two 5-4 in nine innings. Cruz guided the Saints to their first victory of the season by striking out seven batters, and allowing just five base hits with zero walks. Seward County is now 1-1 overall this season.

The Saints scored early after sophomore Will Gowdy drove a two-run RBI triple into the right-center field gap, scoring lead-off hitter Keegan Morrow (hit-by-pitch) and catcher David Masters (walk). Sophomore designated hitter Brock Gifford then scored Gowdy with a sacrifice fly to right field, giving the Saints a 3-0 advantage after one inning.

That is all the help Cruz would need, as the right-handed pitcher from Amarillo struck out at least one batter in each of the first five innings of the game. Cruz’ opening-day master piece was completed by sophomore Rafe Alvarez who pitched a perfect seventh inning.

Gowdy went 1-for-3 with two RBI, freshman second baseman Trent Martinez was the only player in game-one to finish with multiple hits (2-for-3), and sophomore left fielder Luke Hardcastle (1-for-3 RBI) was the only other Saint to record a base hit.

Game-two featured a nine-inning contest that saw 37 players make an appearance. The Cougars opened the scoring in the fourth inning, with four runs on five hits to end the day for Saints’ starting pitcher Bobby Doran. The 6-foot-6 right-handed freshman threw 3.2 innings, allowing four hits, four earned runs and one walk while posting six strikeouts. Doran tallied a strikeout in the first and second innings, and struck out the side in the third inning.

The Saints were able to tie the game in the sixth inning 4-4, after Gifford and Hardcastle drove in runs, and Masters tied the game with a pinch-hit RBI single to right field.

With two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth inning, Seward County came inches away from earning the victory. Freshman Caleb Nine hit a line-drive up the middle, but the shot was deflected off Western Nebraska’s pitchers’ glove which kept the ball in the infield and ended with Nine being put out at first base. The Cougars kept the momentum and scored the winning run in the top of the ninth inning off the Saints’ freshman reliever, Jon Bartlotti, to escape with a doubleheader split.

Seward County will be back in action tomorrow, hosting Northeastern Colorado Junior College for a 1 p.m. non-conference doubleheader at Brent Gould Field.