Coming into the 2011 season with 986 wins, it probably felt like the last 14 were going to take just as long to accumulate for Seward County Head Coach Galen McSpadden. However, after a good start to the year by the Saints, the 30th year skipper had a chance to hit the elusive number on the road against Cloud County last weekend as he entered the series with 996 victories and after the Saints took the first three games of the series to run his total to 999, McSpadden was able to achieve the milestone Sunday afternoon as Seward won 2-1 in the series finale to make him one of just 8 active coaches and one of just 21 coaches in NJCAA history to reach the feat.
As the Saints opened up a stretch of 10 games in 6 days in game one of their Jayhawk West Conference series against Cloud County, it looked as if it was going to be a good week of baseball for the guys in green. They would jump all over Cloud early in game one, scoring a pair of runs on RBI knocks from Tyler Hill and JT Bean in the 1st and then sent 13 hitters to the plate in a 9 run 2nd inning highlighted by a three run home run by Jordan Dallalio and a two run double from Tanner Rainey to make it 11-0 Saints after 2. The teams would trade a pair of runs in the 3rd inning as Hill picked up another RBI on a fielder's choice and Ben Wainwright smacked his third straight double to plate him while the T-Birds got a pair of sacrifice flies in the bottom half of the inning to make it 13-2 Seward as the teams went to the 4th. Seward would not let up in the 4th inning as they scored three more times on an RBI double from Jake Barrios to score Willy Gustin as well as a single up the middle later in the inning from Bean to score two more and make it 16-2 Saints. That would be more than enough for Seward ace Logan Hall who worked his groundball magic in the 4th and 5th innings against the Cloud lineup to put up a pair of goose eggs and push the Saints to the 16-2 run rule win after 5. The Seward offense was nothing short of spectacular in the win as they hit .559 as a team in the contest, pounding out 19 hits while getting out just 15 times. Eight of nine Seward starters had hits in the game and five had three hit games in the win. Gustin finished 3 for 5 with a pair of runs scored at the top of the lineup and Dallalio went 3 for 4 with 3 RBI's and 4 runs scored behind him. Barrios finished a perfect 3 for 3 with 2 runs scored while Bean collected 3 hits in 4 chances and drove in 4. Wainwright finished game one 3 for 4 with 3 doubles as well as a pair of RBI's and runs scored while Hill went just 1 for 4 but drove in 2 and scored 3 runs.
The second game of the series would be just a little bit different for the Saints but they again got off to a good start with a pair of runs in the 1st inning on RBI's from Bean and Hill and would add three more in the 3rd inning on RBI singles from Hill and Rainey to make it 5-0. Just when it looked like the Saints might cruise to another easy win, the T-Birds showed their first life offensively of the day as they scored 2 in the bottom of the 3rd and another pair in the bottom of the 5th inning to make it a one run game at 5-4 after 5. Seward's offense would go ice cold through the middle innings of the contest and a lone single by Wainwright in the 6th would be their first base runner since the 3 run 3rd. Cloud would take advantage as they would squeeze out a run in the bottom of the 6th inning to tie the game after three consecutive two out singles plated one and made it 5-5 as the teams moved to the 7th. The Saints would be gift wrapped a run in the top of the 7th as a pair of walks and a hit by pitch sandwiched around a single would again put them on top, this time at 6-5. From there on it was Austin Beisel time out of the Seward bullpen. The freshman right-hander would allow just a 7th inning single while closing out the final 4 innings of the game on the hill for the Saints, getting a fly out to left field with a runner on third base and two outs in the bottom of the 9th to preserve the 6-5 win and give Seward the double header sweep. Cloud would actually outhit the Saints 9-7 in the game but a good early start from Seward would prove to be the difference in the one run victory. After having six players with multi-hit games in the opener, the Saints would see only Hill reach the category in game two of the twinbill as the sophomore right fielder finished the game 2 for 4 with 3 RBI's and a run scored in the win. Bean and Rainey would both finish with 1 hit and an RBI and Gustin and Dallalio would each score a pair of runs at the top of the Seward order. Beisel would earn the win in relief for the Saints, going 4 innings while allowing just 4 hits and 1 run.
Looking for a series win as Sunday began the Saints again got on the board early as Gustin led off the game with a walk and after a single by Dallalio would score on a sacrifice fly from Barrios to make it 1-0. In the 2nd it would be the T-Birds would helped the Saints out with a pair of errors to start the inning and Seward would make them pay as Carlos Dorado would get an RBI single through the hole on the left side to drive in a run and Eddie Williams would follow that with a sac fly to make it 3-0 Saints. The Saints weren't done yet though as Gustin stepped up and planted one in the gap in left center field to plate Dorado and put Seward on top 4-0 after 2. Saints starter Paul Pulley would be nothing short of spectacular early on in this one as the sophomore righty would face just one over the minimum through 4 innings, allowing only a 3rdinning single which would be erased on a double play to keep the T-Birds off the board through 4. Already up 4-0 the Saints would add on in the top of the 5th inning as they would bat around while scoring 4 runs to make it 8-0 Seward. Pulley would work his way out of a bases loaded jam in the 5th and both teams would go down quietly in order in the 6th to keep the score 8-0 Saints as the teams went to the final inning of play. Brittain Ibbotson would walk to lead off the Seward 7th and he would score on a two out RBI single by Gustin to give the Saints an insurance run and make it 9-0. Pulley wouldn't be able to complete the shutout in the 7th as the T-Birds finally got to him with a few runs but Ty Thomas would come in from the Seward bullpen to finish things out and pick up a save to give the Saints a 9-5 win. Seward would pound out 10 hits in the win, led by the man at the top of their order, Gustin who finished a perfect 3 for 3 with 3 RBI's and a run scored. Drawing just his second start of the season, Dorado would go 3 for 3 as well with 2 runs scored and Dallalio would shake off a rough game in the field with a pair of hits and an RBI in the 9-5 win. Pulley would earn the victory, going 6 2/3 innings, allowing just 2 earned runs while striking out 3 without walking a batter.
With win #999 behind him, Saints Head Coach Galen McSpadden could now look forward to the inevitable 1,000, hoping that it would come in the series finale with the T-Birds. The game would be a classic pitchers dual, almost unheard of in the final game of any college series since the inception of metal bats. The Saints would manage just two hits through the first 3 innings while Seward starter Jose Gonzalez would allow the T-Birds just one as the game remained scoreless through the first 3. The Saints would get their first run of the game on a bases loaded walk to go ahead 1-0 and Gonzalez would respond with a 1-2-3 frame in the bottom half of the 4th to allow Seward to extend upon their lead in the 5th via an RBI single from Barrios to make it 2-0 after 4 ½. Gonzalez was again lights out in the bottom of the inning, retiring the side with a pair of strikeouts on just 9 pitches to keep the score at 2-0 into the 6th. Seward would go down in order in the 6th and Cloud would take advantage of a pair of Saints errors in the bottom half of the inning to get their first run and cut their deficit in half to 2-1. Seward would load the bases with just one out in the 7th but would not be able to score and Cloud would go down in order yet again and with just 6 outs left for each club, the score remained 2-1. After a scoreless 8th for the Saints, the T-Birds would look to be in business in the bottom of the inning as they looked to knot the score at 2. A leadoff walk and a sacrifice would see a Cloud runner in scoring position for the first time since the 1st inning but Gonzalez would bear down, getting a groundout and a pop out on the infield to end the threat and keep it a 2-1 game into the 9th. The Saints would get a pair of runners on without the benefit of a hit in the top of the 9th but again would be unable to push an insurance run across and with just three outs in his path before #1,000, McSpadden and the Saints went to the bottom of the 9th ahead 2-1. After a fly out to open the inning, Gonzalez pitch count would rise as his command would slowly elude him and an eight pitch walk and an error later he was lifted in favor of Gustin with runners on first and second with just one out. Gustin would get the first batter he would see to ground out to put two outs on the board but both runners would advance to put the winning run just 180 feet away with two outs. Cool, calm, and collected, the Saints sidearming lefty would pump in three straight strikes past Matt Gee to record the final out of the game and give McSpadden his 1,000th win in the 2-1 victory. Gonzalez was the story for Seward in the win as the Stephen F. Austin bound sophomore went 8 1/3 innings of 1 hit baseball while striking out 7 and walking 3 without allowing an earned run after entering the game with an 0-1 record and a 10.03 ERA. Barrios and Rainey would provide all the offense that the Saints would need in the win as both collected an RBI in the game while Bean was the only Seward stick to pick up more than 1 hit in the win as he finished 2 for 4.
The series sweep of the T-Birds moved the Saints to 14-8 overall and vaulted them to the top of the Jayhawk West Conference standings at 6-2.