LIBERAL, Kan. – In two high-powered offensive games, the Seward County baseball team (19-24, 7-15 KJCCC) split with the Dodge City Conquistadors, winning game one from the run-rule 20-9, but dropping game two in heart-breaking fashion after blowing a four-run 9th inning lead, 18-17.
GAME ONE RECAP
The Saints only needed six innings to give Tanner King (4-3) the win with King pitching 5.2 innings. He gave up nine runs, though only five were earned, off 10 hits, while striking out six batters. West Reddell picked up his second save of the season with a one-pitch, one-out closing appearance.
Seward's bats were on fire, coming away with 18 hits in the first game. Dylan Paul led the Saints with a 4-for-5 day at the plate with three home runs and five RBI. The three home-run day is the most by a Saint since Todd Glime went yard three times against Barton in 2009.
The first inning was the lone scoreless inning in the game and the only inning the Saints didn't score in. Seward took the lead in the second with a two-out single by Ben Tsui, who drove in Joseph Kuhn.
The Saints followed up the one-run inning with a five-run explosion in the third. Dylan Paul drove in the first run with an RBI single to right field. With runners on first and second, Ayala connected on a three-run bomb over the right field wall to quickly put the Saints up 5-0. Tsui scored the final run of the inning with a sac fly to center.
The Conqs matched Seward with a five-run inning of their own in the top of the fourth. Two doubles to start the inning scored the first run for Dodge City, before another double scored the second and put runners at the corners, setting up a three-run home run for the Conqs to make it a one-run game.
A sac fly by Spencer Sackett, followed by Paul's first of three straight home runs put the Saints up three runs, 8-5.
Cayde Ward started another two-run inning for the Saints in the fifth with a solo home run to right field that was aided by the Southwest Kansas winds. Bergdall brought home his first RBI of the day with a single to left field to push the score to 10-5.
Dodge City cut the lead back down to one run with a four-run sixth inning. With the bases loaded, a double emptied the bases to make it 10-8 before a single to right field scored the Conqs final run.
Paul started and ended the 6th inning with a home run. The first was a solo shot to right field that was followed by Ayala's second home run of the game. A single and two walks loaded the bases for the Saints with no outs. Jose Caraballo scored one run before Brendan Madsen was hit by a pitch to score another and keep the bases loaded for the former Conq, Bergdall.
Bergdall took the pitch and sent flying over the left field wall to unload the bases for the grand slam to put the Saints one run away from the run-rule at 18-9. Spencer Sackett reached with a single to left field and Paul took the first pitch crushed his third straight home run to end the game 20-9.
GAME TWO RECAP
The Saints relied on five pitchers in game two as Cole Evans got the start, but only made it through four innings, giving up eight runs off 10 hits. West Reddell came in for relief, giving up seven runs off nine hits in four innings. Jacob Nielsen (1-1) and Brooks Williams pitched the final inning of play that saw the Conqs take the lead, and the win over the Saints with Nielsen allowing three runs over four hits.
The Saints didn't connect on any long ball in game two, but still came away with 20 hits. Bergdall and Ward led the Saints with four hits a-piece, while Cruz Shope finished with a team-high 4 RBI. Paul and Ayala continued their monster days with three more RBI a piece.
The Conqs got on board in the top of the first with an RBI double and a ground out to shortstop to make it 2-0.
After holding Dodge scoreless in the top of the second, Seward used a seven-run inning to take the lead. Ayala led off with a double before reaching home from a Kuhn single that took a hard bounce over shortstop. Two straight doubles by Tsui and Shope scored three more runs to give the Saints the lead 4-2. Paul used another double, and an error on the play, to score two runs. An error by the first basemen with the next at-bat pushed Paul home to make the score 7-2.
Dodge City cut the lead to two in the third inning a double and a two-RBI single, both hits reaching the outfield.
Seward followed up their seven-run inning with a six-run inning in the third. Shope hit a two-run double to left field to score Tsui and Ward. Two batters later, Madsen singled to left field to score one run and put runners on the corners. Bergdall connected on a hard ground ball to third, forcing an error to score Madsen before Ayala hit a two-RBI double to left field to bring the game to 13-5.
The Conqs used six runs over the fourth and fifth innings to close the gap on the Saints before tying the game in the seventh, while the Seward bats went cold.
An error in the fourth allowed the first run to score during the stretch. The first three batters of the fifth inning reached bases before a ground out pushed a run across. A single and two doubles scored four more runs to make the score 13-11 in the fifth. Dodge City used a 2-run home run from a red-hot Colton Onstott to tie the game in the seventh inning.
The Saints jumped back on top in the bottom of the seventh, starting with an RBI single by Paul. A sac fly by Ayala with the next at bat pushed the lead back up to two before Kuhn and Ward connected on back-to-back balls to left field to bring the score to 17-13.
Heading into the ninth, the Saints lead stayed at four, but the Conqs found their stroke. A leadoff walk allowed Onstott to hit his second straight two-run home run to close the gap to two points. Dodge used two hard hit ball up the middle, and just out of the reach of Jose Caraballo at second base to score three more runs to take an 18-17 lead, and winning the game after retiring the Seward side in the bottom of the ninth.
With the series tied, the Saints will travel to Dodge City on Sunday for a 1:00 double header against the Conqs as they vie for their first conference series win. The game can be heard on 1270 AM with Brock Kappelmann (pxp) on the call.