By EARL WATT
• Leader & Times
The Saints have reached the Region VI title game for the third straight season and are one win away from advancing to the NJCAA College World Series.
The Saints knocked off Neosho 8-6 Saturday and then defeated Garden City 7-3 Sunday to reach today’s 4 p.m. championship. Seward will have two opportunities to advance since the opponent, Colby, already has a loss.
The Saints advance despite giving up a grand slam to Neosho Saturday.
“We are playing pretty well,” Seward coach Galen McSpadden said. “You have to at this time of the year.”
Logan Hall pitched for the Saints against Neosho, and after receiving strong run support and a 7-2 lead, McSpadden stuck with Hall after the grand slam narrowed the score to 7-6.
“He only threw two bad pitches,” McSpadden said. “He hit a guy with a pitch and then gave up the grand slam. It was a tough decision to stick with him. He’s a bulldog, he’s 19-2 over two years for a reason. He didn’t want out of the game. From seventh inning on I was going batter by batter.”
McSpadden stuck with Hall until the bottom of the ninth when Keegan Hucul came in for the final out of the game.
“They had the winning run at the plate,” McSpadden said. Their No. 3 hole was a switch hitter. I knew if I went to lefty, they would swith him and I did that. The guy right behind him hit grand slam. It was percentage ball, and I brought in Hucul.” Hucul recorded the out, and the Saints advanced.
Seward pitched Paul Pulley against Garden City, and while he didn’t have his best outing, he threw enough pitches with a stiff shoulder to get the Saints to the seventh with a lead.
Willy Gustin provided run support with a four-for-five performance at the plate. McSpadden then put Gustin on the mound
“If we could get past the sixth, I was going to go with Willy,” McSpadden said. “He comes, in gets a bunt, a ground ball and gets out of the inning only giving up one.”
Seward added three in the top of the ninth, and Gustin preserved the lead for the 7-3 win.
“We had great defense,” McSpadden said “(Jake) Barrios made four major league plays. Two plays some pros couldn’t make. He’s not the only one. We had some good defense and timely hitting.”
The Saints will face Colby at 4 p.m. today for the Region VI championship. Colby lost to Garden City 5-2, defeated Neosho 4-1, and the run-ruled Garden City 11-3 to reach the title game.
Gavin Glanz will pitch for the Saints. His last outing was an 11-1 run rule win over Coffeyville in the Super Regional final.
“We put ourselves in the best position,” McSpadden said. “We’ll see if we can close the deal.”
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