EL DORADO, Kan. – It was a tough afternoon for the Seward County Saints (17-19, 5-11 KJCCC) losing in a walk off to the Butler Grizzlies in the first game of their double header before losing 14-7 in game two.
GAME ONE RECAP
Ryan Thomas (2-4) took the mound in game one in what would turn into a pitching duel. Thomas pitched 6.2 innings, giving up two runs on five hits with both runs coming in the bottom of the ninth. Jacob Nielsen came in for relief, giving up the walk-off hit.
Seward knew it would be a tough game at the plate, facing Drake Norton (7-1) who is second in the Jayhawk Conference with a 2.29 earned run average. Only three Saints managed hits in game one – Cole Bergdall, Cayde Ward and Ben Tsui.
Through three innings, both teams combined for just one baserunner, coming from a Tsui single in the top of the second. That changed in the top of the fourth when Bergdall and Ward both singled to center field to start the inning. Joe Kuhn advanced Bergdall to third, reaching on a fielder's choice to have runners at the corners. Dylan Paul batted in the lone run for the Saints, grounding out to second base, but scoring Bergdall along the way to make it 1-0 in favor of Seward.
Butler got their first baserunner in the bottom of the fourth, but three straight groundouts forced by Thomas ended any threat.
Heading into the seventh inning Thomas was dealing a three-hitter. He forced the first batter into a ground out, but Connor Hurst evened up the game with solo home run. Butler followed up the home run with a walk before pushing the possible game-winning run to second base with a single that hit the gap on the right side.
Nielsen replaced Thomas, but the momentum was already in Butler's favor. With a 2-1 count, Mason Goade brought home the winning run with a walk-off single to right center, giving Butler the 2-1 victory.
GAME TWO RECAP
Brayden Conner (0-3) started on the mound, but struggled, failing to find any accuracy in his pitches, picking up only two outs, while giving up seven first inning runs before being pulled. Braeden Gould (1.1 IP), West Reddell (2.2 IP) and Brooks Williams (3.1 IP) combined for the final 8.1 innings. They gave up seven runs on 11 hits.
Before the Saints could blink, the game was out of reach. Conner got the first two batters outs, but proceeded to hit three straight Grizzlies to load the bases. Alex Brough knocked two batters in with a single through the left side of the infield. A walk loaded the bases before the Grizzlies made it 3-0, scoring on a passed ball.
The Grizzlies followed up with an RBI single to shortstop before Conner hit a fourth batter. A double steal put runners at first and second before Patrick Bethea made it 7-0 with a two-run double to center field.
Butler got one run each in the second and third inning. The second inning run came from a leadoff home run. In the third inning a double and two walks loaded the bases for the Grizzlies. An errant pickoff attempt allowed the runner on third to score to make the game 9-0 in just three innings.
Three more runs came in for the Grizzlies in the bottom of the fifth both coming from singles to center field. Javier Pena knocked in two runs, while Brough scored one, bringing the game to 12-0.
After five scoreless innings, the Saints got one run in the sixth coming from a solo home run by Ayala. Seward kept their scoring going in the seventh, scoring four more runs. A two-RBI double to left center by Kuhn made the game 12-3. Ayala hit another home run two batters later, this time scoring two runs to cut the deficit to seven.
The Grizzlies scored their final two runs of the game in the bottom of the seventh inning. A double-steal on a strikeout forced a Seward error, scoring the first run and putting runners at second and third. Brough scored batted another run in with a sac fly to center field to make it 14-5.
Seward could only get two more runs to go, both coming in the bottom of the ninth from a two-run homer run from Kuhn to make the score 14-7.
The Saints will be on the road in Great Bend on Thursday at 1:00 p.m. for a conference doubleheader against the Barton Cougars.