WICHITA, Kan. – The Seward County baseball team's season came to an end on Sunday, losing to the Hutchinson Blue Dragons in the elimination bracket of the Region VI Tournament, 12-8 after a late surge came up just short of completing the comeback.
Ryan Thomas (2-9) started on the mound, but only lasted 2.1 innings after giving up four runs off five hits. Dylan Paul was called from the bullpen in the third inning but was replaced in the fourth after giving up three runs off three hits in 0.2 innings pitched. Braeden Gould was the next man up in the bullpen, giving up five runs off four hits in 4.1 innings. West Reddell entered in the 8th inning, pitching the final 0.2 innings, not allowing a run. Only eight of the 12 runs scored by the Blue Dragons were earned.
Seward threatened in the top of the first, as Brendan Madsen and Spencer Sackett both reached safely to put runners on first and second with no outs, but the Blue Dragons quickly rebounded, forcing three straight outs to leave runners stranded.
Hutch didn't leave any runners stranded in the bottom of the first, taking an early 2-0 lead. Two singles to lead off the inning put runners on first and second before two ground outs drove in both runners.
The Blue Dragons kept the runs coming in the second inning. A single and ground rule double put runners at second and third for Julian Rip to hit a sacrifice fly to left field to make it 3-0.
For the third straight inning, Hutch put runs on the board. After getting base runners from a hit by pitch and a single, Seward went to their bullpen. The pitching change forced a double play to end the inning, but not before Zach Baxley was able to single through the left side to score a run to make it 4-0.
Two straight triples to the right field gap to start the fourth inning scored two runs. On the second triple, an error on the throw to the cutoff man allowed the baserunner to advance home to make it 6-0. Gould entered the game, forcing a double play, but an error on a fly ball to left field allowed the seventh run of the game to score.
Seward's bats got started in the sixth inning. A single and two walks loaded the bases for the Saints before Joseph Kuhn and Jose Caraballo connected on back-to-back singles to left field to make bring the game to 7-3. Another single by Cole Bergdall made it a three-run game as he drove in Kuhn.
After cutting the lead to three, the Saints defense fell apart in the sixth. Two straight errors to start the inning scored a run for the Blue Dragons. A sacrifice fly pushed the second score of the inning across home plate to make it 9-4.
The Saints cut the lead back to three in the top of the 8th inning. After a leadoff single by Caraballo, Benny Ayala cranked a two-run blast over the left field wall to make it 9-6. A walk and a single put runners on the corners for the Saints before Paul drove in both runners with a double that found the gap in left center.
The Blue Dragons got their insurance runs they needed in the bottom of the eighth. A single and a walk put runners on first and second for Hutchinson before Bobby Morgensen hit a three-run blast over the right field wall to make it 12-8.
Saints finish their season 30-30, winning 11 of their final 16 games to reach the .500 mark. The Saints finish in 6th place at the Region VI Tournament, their best finish since 2014, when they finished in 6th place.