Saints complete upset of Greyhounds

Tuesday, May 8, 2018
Fort Scott’s Ben Kiefer hits an RBI single that brings in Connor Fraley from third base during the second inning of Saturday’s game at Lions Field. Seward County won the game 17-7 and took the best-of-three series 2-0.
Scott Nuzum/Tribune

For the second time in as many days, 14th-seeded Seward County jumped out to a big lead in the top of the first inning and Fort Scott Community College was unable to overcome it.

Friday, the Saints scored 4 runs in the top of the first inning in the opening game of a best-of-three first-round series in the Region VI Baseball Tournament at Lions Field on Friday and went on to win 9-1.

Saturday, Seward County scored 5 times in the top of the first and went on to complete the sweep, 17-7, in seven innings. Fort Scott’s season came to an end at 41-15 — the fourth-most wins and second-fewest losses in a season in the program’s history — after finishing second in the Jayhawk Conference-Eastern Division.

The Saints (29-28) belted nine home runs in the series, batted .429 and got an earned-run average of 3.94 from a pitching staff that was 16th in ERA in the Jayhawk Conference during the regular season (7.40). This same pitching staff held the conference’s leading offense — a .359 batting average in the regular season — to .197 in the series.

The Saints also hit 9 home runs in these two games. Not so much a surprise as they had 75 during the regular season, third in the conference.

The first of Seward County’s four dingers on Saturday capped off the first inning as Jose Caraballo bashed a 3-run shot to make it 5-0. Two more batters singled after that before Kyle Smith (5-2) finally managed to get of the inning.

Ben McConnell and Owen Wilson hit solo homers in the bottom of the first and Andrew Morrow belted a double, moved up on a groundout and scored on a wild pitch to bring Fort Scott within 2 runs.

Cayde Ward hit a 2-run homer in the top of the second as the Saints went on to score another 5, this time off Connor Fraley, who wasn’t able to get out of the inning.

Fort Scott had a team earned-run average of 5.37 in the regular season, fourth-best in the conference. In this series, it was 13.50.

Fraley, who could stay in the batting order as college rules allow pitchers to be their own designated hitters, led off the bottom of the second with a triple to right field. He scored on Ben Kiefer’s single but that was all the ’Hounds could muster.

The third inning was scoreless. Seward County plated two unearned runs in the fourth, both scoring on a Ward double.

Fraley led off the bottom of the fourth with a double to the left-field fence. Kiefer walked on four pitches and Alexei Cazarin bunted the runners over. Fraley scored on a sacrifice fly by McConnell, bringing Fort Scott within 12-5.

No scores were posted in the fifth inning. Joseph Kuhn hit a 3-run homer and Benny Ayala hit a solo shot for the Saints in the top of the sixth to extend the lead to 16-5.

Keifer led off the bottom of the sixth, reaching base on a bad throw by the catcher after he dropped the third strike. Cazarin followed with Fort Scott’s third homer of the day to close the deficit to nine runs.

Cruz Shope’s leadoff homer in the top of the seventh provided the margin necessary to bring the run rule into effect. Jordan Pepper (3-1), who came on during the fourth inning, put Fort Scott down in order in the bottom half, bringing the season to a close.

Pepper allowed one earned run in 3 1/3 innings, walking no one and striking out 3. Fraley was the only Greyhound with more than one hit.

Kuhn, Caraballo, Ayala and Spencer Sackett each had 2 of Seward County’s 21 hits off five Fort Scott pitchers. Shope, Ward, Brendan Madsen and Cole Bergdall each had 2 hits.

Seward County advances to the double-elimination bracket that will determine the Region VI champion and its representative to the NJCAA World Series. They will face sixth-seeded Colby (31-22) at 10 a.m. Friday.

(14) Seward Co.ABRHBI
Madsen, cf5221
Sackett, lf5330
Paul, 1b3310
Ward, dh3125
Kuhn, c5334
Caraballo, ss5233
Ayala, 3b5232
Bergdall, 2b5020
Shope, lf5122
(3) Fort ScottABRHBI
McConnell, cf3112
Moore, ss4010
Wilson, rf3111
Morrow, lf4110
Solomon, 3b4000
Waterbury, 1b4000
Fraley, dh-p3220
Young, ph1000
Kiefer, c2111
Cazarin, 2b2112

Seward County... 550 204 1xx — 17 21 3

Fort Scott 310 102 0xx — 7 8 1

E — Ayala, Caraballo, Kuhn, Cazarin. DP — Fort Scott 1 (Connor, Moore and Waterbury).

LOB — Seward County 12, Fort Scott 6. 2B — Ward, Morrow, Fraley. 3B — Fraley. HR — Caraballo (5, 1st inn., off Smith, 2 on, 1 out), Ward (11, 2nd inn., off Fraley, 1 on, 1 out), Kuhn (11, 6th inn., off Schmitt, 2 on, 1 out), Ayala (12, 6th inn., off Miller, none on, 2 out), Shope (4, 7th inn., off Miller, none on, none out), McConnell (7, 1st inn., off Evans, none on, none out), Wilson (7, 1st innn., off Evans, none on, 1 out), Cazarin (4, 5th inn., off Pepper, 1 on, none out). S — Cazarin. SF — Ward, McConnell.

Evans3 2/365524
Pepper (W. 3-1)3 1/322103
Smith (L. 5-2)155521
Fraley 2/365501
Schmitt3 2/365303
Connor 2/300010

WP — Evans, Fraley, Miller. HBP — Paul 2 (by Schmitt 2), Sackett (by Fraley), Ward (by Schmitt), Kuhn (by Schmitt).