Saints Come Up Just Short Against #4 Johnson
KSCB News - May 11, 2015 6:36 am
As if a 14 inning loss wasn’t enough in their Region VI Championship Tournament opener Friday against Coffeyville, the Seward County Saints took the left and the right hook on Saturday as they couldn’t hold another late lead, this one against #4 Johnson County as they fell 4-3 to eliminate them from the tournament and end their 2015 season.
In the first elimination game of the 2015 Region VI Championship Tournament, it was the most unlikely of foes Saturday morning in Wichita as the Jayhawk West Champion and top seeded Seward County Saints took on the #4 ranked team in the country in the Johnson County Cavaliers.
Johnson struck right away in this one, plating a 1st inning run on a leadoff single and a two out wild pitch to take an early 1-0 lead on the Saints.
The Saints had a chance to answer right back in their half of the 1st getting back to back singles from Alex White and Brandon Urquizo to start their offense, but Seward couldn’t take advantage of a first and third, one out situation, failing to score, and then ended up leaving the bases loaded at innings end to remain down 1-0.
Neither team managed anything in the 2nd and in the 3rd the Cavs had another chance to tally a run as they put runners on the corners with one out. A sharply hit ground ball up the middle by Johnson All-American Anthony Miller was snagged by Seward second baseman Logan Nethercot and he started a 4-6-3 double play to end the threat and keep Seward down just one.
Seward finally broke through in their half of the 3rd, getting another leadoff single from White and a one out single by Brent Williams to put runners on first and third before a sacrifice fly from Brandon Rix scored White from third to tie the score at 1-1.
It looked like the game would fly through the 4th with the same score, but a two out single by Johnson and a Seward wild pitch gave the Cavaliers a chance and they took advantage. A ground rule double scored the runner from second which proved even bigger after the next batter grounded out to third, meaning that without the wild pitch, the score would have remained tied at 1, instead it was Johnson County back in front 2-1 at innings end.
White was back at it again for the Saints in the 5th, picking up his third hit of the game with one out to start a rally for the guys in green. White moved to third on a single from Urquizo and Williams lifted a sac fly to right center to score him to tie the score at 2. With two outs in the inning Rix stung a single to right and Dillon Drury fought off an 0-2 pitch into right field for a single of his own to score Urquizo and put the Saints up for the first time in the game 3-2.
It stayed a 3-2 game to the 7th when Johnson managed a run tied the score once again. A leadoff double to the gap started the Cavs inning and after a sac bunt moved the runner to third, a routine ground ball on the infield pushed the run home to knot the score at 3.
Seward had a chance to grab the lead right back as they sent the top of their lineup to the plate in the bottom of the 7th, but this time, it wasn’t meant to be as they were retired 1-2-3 to keep it a 3-3 game.
Johnson kept their momentum rolling into the 8th, using a pair of one out walks by Seward starter Hayden Howard to put the go ahead run in scoring position and knock the southpaw out of the game. After a fielder’s choice made it two outs with runners on the corner, the Cavs managed to do what the Saints could not, come through with a big two out hit, and just like that Johnson County had the lead back 4-3.
Seward looked like it might tie it back up in the bottom of the 8th as Drury walked with one out and Justin Graff-Rowe stung a line drive to left field, but Johnson left fielder Riley Landuyt made a spectacular catch to retire Graff-Rowe and record the second out of the inning for the Cavs. Nethercot also flied out to Landuyt and to the 9th the teams went with Johnson County holding the 4-3 advantage.
Seward reliever Thomas Garland worked out of trouble in the top of the 9th to keep it a one run game at 4-3 as the game went to the final half inning of play.
White picked up his career best fourth hit of the game with two outs in the 9th, but it went for naught as he was stranded on base as the tying run and Seward fell 4-3 to end their 2015 season.
Seward had 10 hits in the game to match the Cavaliers 10, but they left 8 runners on in the one run loss. White had 4 hits in the defeat while Urquizo had 2 and the Saints 3-4-5 men each had a hit and an RBI. Seward got nearly no production from the bottom of their lineup however as their last four hitters combined to go just 1 for 16 in the loss. Howard was the tough luck loser for the Saints on the mound in his final game at Seward. The Texas Tech bound lefty went 7 1/3 innings, allowing 7 hits and 4 runs against the team leading all levels of college baseball with 101 home runs on the year.
Seward is the first team eliminated from the tournament and take the dubious distinction home of being the first Saints squad to lose its first two games in the championship round of the tournament in Wichita. The Saints finish their 2015 campaign at 34-25 while Johnson County lives to fight another day as they pick up their 50th win of the year in the victory.