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Friday, Aug. 26, 2016

SHS survives another scare

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Sikeston's J.R. Bizzell
SIKESTON - With the wind howling on a brisk, cool day, the Sikeston Bulldogs baseball team faced its second biggest deficit of the year against East Carter County on Tuesday at VFW Stadium.

Trailing 6-3 heading into the bottom of the fifth, the Bulldogs showed no signs of life.

But that all changed quickly as Sikeston exploded for eight runs to rally to defeat the Redbirds 11-6 to improve to 11-0 on the season.

Trailing 6-4, junior J.R. Bizzell flooded the right centerfield gap with a bases clearing triple to take the lead for good.

Bizzell, who also had a double over the right fielder's head earlier in the game, entered the day with one hit all year -- a bunt single.

But he left Tuesday as the hero in the Bulldogs' biggest scare since the season-opener against Notre Dame.

He usually has a designated hitter bat for him, but Sikeston coach Kevin Self said he had a feeling that this could be Bizzell's day.

"I've been hitting for him a lot and I just felt like it was time to give him a chance to hit for the whole game," said Self. "Today I was looking for a base hit bunt or a sacrifice situation and lo and behold he starts hitting it in the gap and over the right fielder's head. You never know, that's why you play them. This game's funny."

The fifth inning wiped out a lackluster day for the Bulldogs, who committed four uncharacteristic errors and had seven walks and a hit batter out of their pitchers -- both season-highs.

"It just snowballed," said East Carter coach Jason Morris. "With any good team, you can't ever let them start that downhill roll because they're not going to stop until it gets to be a big old snowball. And that's what they did. They had a couple walks and then a couple hits and then there it goes."

Following Bizzell's triple, Scotty Keenan added a sacrifice fly and then Blake DeWitt sent what one fan called, "a frozen rope" over the right field fence for a three-run homer to put the game out of reach.

"That was just a line drive and it's a small park down the line and it got out," said Self. "That ball had top spin on it and it got out of here."

DeWitt's line drive shot was his fourth home run in five days. The Bulldogs finished the day with 10 hits, but only had four heading into the fifth inning.

"They're a good ballclub and I knew we were very fortunate to have a lead that late in the game on them," said Morris. "They hit the ball one through nine and put the ball in play. I think my pitcher froze up on us a little bit and got in a jam. He doesn't pitch a lot for us. But overall I was pleased with our effort today. I thought other than one inning, we played well enough to win."

Bulldog hurler Bryce Wibbenmeyer had his shakiest outing of the season as he threw just 3 1/3 innings. He allowed five runs (three earned) off six hits and four walks.

"Bryce didn't have his best stuff," said Self. "He gave me all he had, but it just wasn't there today. Usually he's got his breaking ball for strikes and his fastball when he spots it. He was behind 2-0 and 3-1 almost all day. That's what cost him. Plus we booted a few, more than we usually do. We made some mistakes today we normally don't make."

Junior Garland Hemphill picked up the win in relief in his first outing of the year. He threw 1 2/3 innings, allowing one unearned run off one hit with a strikeout and a walk.

DeWitt picked up the save in two scoreless innings of work, striking out five and walking one.

Sikeston jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first on a two-run double by Jacob Priday.

East Carter (9-2) came back to tie the score in the top of the second on Brandon Crook's run-scoring single.

The Bulldogs took the lead at 3-2 when DeWitt circled the bases on three different wild pitches.

The Redbirds broke out in the top of the fourth with four runs. A costly throwing error by Hemphill on a sacrifice bunt by Trevor Douglas allowed two runs to score. A single by Tyler Stahl brought home another run to take a 6-3 lead.

Sikeston had a great chance to get back in the game in the bottom of the fourth when they had the bases loaded with one out. But Lance Rhodes chopped into a 5-3 double play to end the threat.

"We had bases loaded with one out and Lance and Blake coming up I'm thinking, 'this is our chance right here. If we don't score here it's going to get really tight,'" said Self. "I'll be dang, sure enough in the fifth we got chances again."

East Carter's Jake Worley took the loss, throwing 4 1/3 innings and allowing seven runs (six earned) off six hits and six walks.

Crook, Stahl and Alan Wilder each had two hits. Crook added two RBIs and made several nice plays at shortstop.

"Their shortstop was a dandy little player," said Self. "I mean he could flat out play. "You have to give some credit to East Carter, they've got a good club."

Sikeston was led by Keenan, Priday, Bizzell and Nathan Eaves with two hits each. Bizzell and DeWitt each had three RBIs. DeWitt also scored four runs.

"Late in the game we had to show a little character and that's what I'm most proud of," said Self. "We want to win every single game but if we don't then it's no big deal. We're looking for district, and that's what's on our mind. Come district time we just want to be prepared. I'm just tickled to get out of here with a win today. We just snuck that one out."

East Carter will play in their own Bank of Grandin Tournament where they will host Pocahontas (Ark.) on Thursday.

Sikeston plays at Kennett today at 4 p.m. The Bulldogs will travel to Jackson tomorrow at 4 p.m. for a SEMO Conference game.