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Seward Connection Boosts Bee Jays

In a familiar venue at Lawrence Dumont Stadium in

Wichita, seven former Seward County Saints became National Champions

Friday night by taking home the 2010 NBC World Series Championship in

the tournaments 76th installment. The Bee Jays defeated the Seattle

Studs 9-6 in a one game, winner take all championship game, to avenge an

earlier loss to the Studs and finish the tournament 7-1. 2008 graduate

Tomas Cruz had the ball in his hand with the game on the line with two

outs in the bottom of the 9th while fellow '08 grad David Masters was

ready to receive the pitch behind the plate. 2010 NJCAA All-American

Kelby Tomlinson had just made yet another spectacular play in short

center field to record the 2nd out of the inning while fellow 2010 grads

Quay Grant and Jared Wagner, as well as '09 Saints closer Travis Parker

were on their feet in the bullpen. Not to be forgotten was 2007-08

Saint Christian Kowalchuk who was one of the key members of the Bee

Jays pitching staff all summer long, but was shut down late in the

season due to an arm injury and was unable to pitch in the tournament.

Many dreams had ended in Wichita for these seven young

men as in 2008 Tomas Cruz, David Masters, and Christian Kowalchuk's

Seward County careers came to an end on the turf of Lawrence Dumont

Stadium. In 2009 Travis Parker's Saints were shocked at Dumont by

Cowley in two straight games to end his one magical season in Liberal.

Finally just three short months ago, Kelby Tomlinson, Quay Grant, and

Jared Wagner thought that they had seen the last of the historic stadium

when their two year ride with the Saints came to a close after an extra

inning battle with rival Hutchinson went the way of the Blue Dragons.

However, in a magical two week run that culminated with a championship

game rematch against the Seattle Studs, those seven Saints had

undoubtedly one of the highlights of their baseball careers on the 'old

school' turf carpet of LD as the final out was secured and nobody else

in the amateur baseball world was above them as they were crowned NBC

World Champions.

Cruz was THE man in the back end of the bullpen for the

Bee Jays since he joined the team late in the season. After posting a

2-0 record with 4 saves and a 0.56 ERA during the regular season, the

Saint turned Clemson Tiger threw in 5 of the 8 Bee Jay games in the

tournament, picking up 2 wins and a save in 7 2/3 innings of work.

Masters played in 6 games in the tournament and drew the call to handle

the Liberal staff in the championship game behind the plate on Friday.

He posted a .977 fielding percentage behind the plate during the

tournament and scored 6 runs while driving in a pair. Tomlinson capped

a summer in which he was named Bee Jays MVP by leading all players in

the tournament with 12 stolen bases while playing gold glove defense and

posting a .395 on base percentage in the eight games. Parker threw just

once in the tournament but was a key piece of the Bee Jays lockdown

bullpen during the regular season, pitching in 17 games and posting a

2.42 ERA in 26 innings pitched on the season. Grant threw a pair of

scoreless innings in the tournament, allowing just 2 hits while striking

out a batter. Wagner drew the start for Liberal in their win Sunday

against St. Joseph, Missouri and went 4 innings, allowing 2 runs on 3

hits and later in the tournament threw a scoreless inning against

Seattle in the team's first matchup of the week. Kowalchuk, while not

able to pitch in the tournament, played a large part in the Bee Jays

success this summer. The former Saints lefty and then College World

Series participant with the University of Arkansas, recorded a 3-2

record for Liberal in 25 innings pitched, striking out 18 and walking

just 7 in 6 starts on the year.

The group joins a list of players a mile long that

started their big league dreams in Wichita at the NBC Tournament. The

list includes current MLB stars such as Albert Pujols, Tim Lincecum,

Trevor Hoffman, and Mark Texeira along with legends like Satchel Paige,

Dave Winfield, Tony Gwynn, Barry Bonds, and Mark McGwire also spotting

the list. Whose name will it be 10 years from now that we look back and

remember donning the Bee Jay powder blue and red? It could be one of

these seven who will always say that their college career started right

here in Liberal as a Saint at Seward County.

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