Sometimes it is the little things that count and Saturday afternoon at Brent Gould Field in Liberal, that little thing was a 7th inning passed ball that eventually cost them a ballgame as they took on the Garden City Broncbusters in their 2016 Jayhawk West Conference opener. Seward eventually fell 3-2 in extra innings in game one of the twinbill before bouncing back to take game two 10-5 in come from behind fashion to split day one of conference action with the Busters.
As expected in the Jayhawk Conference opener, the first game of Saturday's double header was a pitcher's duel from the start between Seward's Jakob Hernandez and Garden City's Noah Draper.
Through the first two innings of action, Garden City managed just one hit off of the Saints lefty while Seward was able to pick up a pair of two out singles against Draper before stranding both as the game remained scoreless to the 3rd.
Seward had the next scoring chance, putting two on with one out in the bottom of the 3rd, but Draper came up big with a strikeout and then a groundout to end the threat and keep it a 0-0 game.
Both pitchers faced some command issues through the middle innings, but they didn't let it affect them, holding both opposing offenses at bay, keeping it a scoreless game into the 6th.
Hernandez worked around a one out walk in the top of the 6th and Draper retired the Saints in order in the bottom of the inning to quickly send the game to the 7th, still without the ice broken in a 0-0 game.
Hernandez committed the cardinal sin in a tie game, walking the leadoff hitter in the 7th and it later came back to bite him as after a sacrifice bunt and a key passed ball, the Busters got a sacrifice fly to bring the run home to make it a 1-0 game.
As the Busters went to their bullpen in the bottom of the 7th trying to close the game out, they did the same thing, walking the Saints leadoff man, who later ended up at third base with two outs after a groundout and a stolen base. The stolen base would prove huge as with Seward down to their final strike and final out of the game, a swing and a miss on a breaking ball got through the Busters catcher to the back stop and Trent Mulherin scampered home for the tying run to knot the score at 1-1 and send the game to extra innings.
Neither team pushed anything across in the 8th, but the Busters plated a pair in the 9th after Seward botched a Garden sacrifice bunt attempt to make it 3-1.
Again down to their final three outs, the Saints kept scratching, scoring a run and putting two runners in scoring position before a groundout ended the threat and the game in the 9th with Garden City hanging on to win the series opener 3-2.
Seward outhit Garden 7-6 in the game, but the passed ball and error on the bunt proved costly in the one run loss. Jared Biddy led Seward with 2 hits and their lone RBI of the game at the top of the order. Hernandez took a tough luck no decision in the loss, going 6 2/3, allowing just 1 hit and 1 run while striking out 8. Jonathan Castillo took the loss in relief, allowing 2 runs on 5 hits in 2 1/3 out of the Saints pen.
Game two got off to a rough start for the Saints who committed errors on the first two plays of the game and in turn watched Garden City score three times in the top of the 1st to go ahead right away 3-0.
Seward struck back in the 2nd as Justin Graff-Rowe got one up and into the jet stream in left center field for a two run home run, getting the Saints back to within one at 3-2.
Garden answered with a run of their own in the top half of the 3rd to make it a 4-2 game before Dylan Paul slapped a single into the outfield with two outs to plate a run for Seward in the bottom half to bring the Saints to within one again at 4-3.
The teams continued to trade single runs as Garden plated one in the top of the 4th and Seward got a solo home run from Dalton Watson in the bottom half to push the score to 5-4 in favor of the Busters.
Saints starter Adam Keller, who was forced to battle through adversity all afternoon, stepped up and gave Seward a zero in the 5th and his offense responded with two runs in the bottom of the frame on an RBI groundout from Graff-Rowe and a bloop single from Landon Vodka to score the go ahead run to give them their first lead of the game at 6-5.
Another strong inning by Keller in the 6th kept it a 6-5 game and the Saints blew the game open in the bottom of the 6th as lefties Dylan Paul and Logan Nethercot both came through with run scoring doubles to put Seward in front 10-5.
The Saints went to their bullpen, well third base, bringing in Biddy to shut the door, and that is exactly what the freshman did, keeping the Busters from getting anything going in the 7th to finish off the 10-5 win for Seward to split the double header.
The Saints again outhit Garden, this time 12-10 in the win. Graff-Rowe and Paul provided all the thump the Saints needed in this one, each finishing with a pair of hits while combining to drive in 5 runs in the Seward win. Keller struck out 5 in 6 innings of work to earn the win, he scattered 9 hits while allowing 5 runs, just 2 earned in the victory.
The split pushes the Saints to 7-9 on the year while Garden City goes to 15-4. Both teams open Jayhawk West Conference play at 1-1.
Seward and Garden will go at it again Sunday afternoon at Brent Gould Field with first pitch of game three of the series scheduled for 1:00.