LIBERAL, Kan. - Early errors were the difference maker for the Seward County Saints baseball team (18-22, 6-14), getting swept by the No. 18 Barton Cougars to lose their fourth straight conference series. The Cougars won 3-1 in game one before taking game two 8-4.
GAME ONE RECAP
Freshman Ryan Thomas (2-5) picked up his 6th start of the year, pitching five innings in the loss. He gave up three runs (two earned) off nine hits while striking out four batters. West Reddell pitched the final two inning in relief, not allowing any hits in his two shutout innings.
The Saints started off hot against the top pitching team in the Jayhawk Conference, scoring one run in the first inning with an RBI single by Dylan Paul. Barton tightened up after that, not allowing another run the rest of the way.
Barton tied quickly tied the game at one in the top of the second. With the bases loaded and no outs, a single to left field scored one run, but Spencer Sackett kept any more runs from scoring with a quick throw from left field. Thomas got out of the inning with a fly out to centerfield before forcing a double play.
Neither team could find their bats until the top of the fifth. Barton led off with a double and followed it up with a single to right field. Paul misplayed the ball in right field, allowing the go-ahead run to score off the error. A sacrifice fly later in the inning made the game 3-1.
Seward had a chance to make some noise in the bottom of the sixth, getting two bases runners on, but a fly out to right field ended any threat and the game as the Saints failed to get anything going in the seventh.
GAME TWO RECAP
Freshman Hunter Ratcliffe (0-2) picked up his first career start, but his defense did him no favors. The Cougars scored six runs off six hits on Ratcliffe, but none of the runs were earned. Brooks Williams (1.0 IP) and Jacob Nielsen (3.0 IP) came in for relief, pitching the final four innings of play, while give up a combined two runs off four hits.
Barton took the lead in the top of the first. With two outs and two on, an error by Ayala at third base allowed both runners to score and give the Cougars an early two run lead.
The Saints got one back in the bottom of the second with a ground out by Ben Tsui, scoring Kuhn, who was at third base.
The third inning was the difference in the game, as the Cougars came away with four runs. The Saints started the inning off by committing an error. Two straight outs looked as though Seward would get out unscathed, but a single and hit by pitch gave the Cougars life. Another single scored the first run of the inning before a three-run double gave Barton an insurmountable 6-1 lead.
While the Cougars were scoring in bunches, the Saints could only get one run at a time. Tsui pushed across his second RBI with a fielder's choice in the bottom of the fourth while Ayala gave the Saints another run in the bottom of the fifth with a sac fly to left field, making the game 6-3.
Feeling the momentum shifting, Barton scored two more insurance runs in the top of the seventh. The Cougars loaded the bases with no outs to start the inning. A sac fly scored the first run, while a single to right field made the game 8-3.
Paul hit his fifth home run of the season to cut the deficit to four in the bottom of the seventh, but those were the last points the Saints could get, falling to Barton 8-4.
Seward will travel to Clarendon for a 3:00 p.m. non-conference matchup with the Bulldogs before returning to Jayhawk play at Brent Gould Field for a 3:00 double header against the Dodge City Conquistadors.