(photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
The Bulldogs have allowed just one run in their last three games.
This time it was pitcher Adam Garrett, who threw all seven innings, allowing just four hits with no walks and five strikeouts.
"He threw strikes, he made them hit it," said Sikeston head coach Kevin Self. "That's two shutouts for him and this one was a seven-inning job. He's thrown it well twice now and he's going to be a factor with all the games we've got coming up."
Sikeston (12-2) scored its only three runs in the third inning -- all of which were unearned.
With two outs, Poplar Bluff's shortstop booted a ground ball by Blake DeWitt which kept the inning alive. After a Jacob Priday walk, Jamie Puckett singled up the middle to score DeWitt to take a 1-0 lead.
An error by the centerfielder allowed Puckett and Priday to advance to second and third.
After a Drew Lawrence walk, Chris Cota had a swinging bunt towards third base. As Cota beat out the throw, Puckett hustled from second to score right behind Priday to give the Bulldogs a 3-0 edge.
"Sikeston did a good job of running the bases -- the guy from second scored and we had no shot at him," said Poplar Bluff head coach Tim Harmon. "They're probably the best team in the conference and we were one play away from extra innings. That's our best game right there. Our pitching has been well all year, now if we can just score some runs we'd be alright."
Poplar Bluff (4-12) hurler Josh Smith kept Sikeston's bats quiet for most of the day, allowing just six hits with five strikeouts.
"You're not going to score 15 runs every time you go out, especially with the way that kid threw the ball," said Self. "That's the best kid we've seen all year, bar none. He's better than anybody we've faced so far. He threw the strikes and threw well."
Poplar Bluff had two solid chances to score but some good, if not spectacular defense, by Sikeston kept the Mules scoreless.
In the third inning, Chris Smith, after leading off with a double, got caught in a run-down on a fielder's choice to the shortstop.
"That's a bad base running play -- you've got to make (the shortstop) throw it across, if he makes a bad throw then it could be first and third with nobody out," said Harmon. "Instead they get him in a rundown and got him out."
The next batter, Darrin Elder hit a sharp line drive to deep left centerfield but Cota made a sensational, fully extended catch to keep a potential run off the board.
Then after a double to centerfield, Cota threw to Puckett, who relayed to Priday for the easy tag out at home to stop another run from scoring.
"We still hit it hard, but the centerfielder made a hell of a catch out there," said Harmon. "If that gets over his head then we could've gotten on the board. And on the play at home, in hindsight I probably should've held him up. We had (Austin) Armes up and I hate to take the bat out of his hands, but we'd been struggling so bad to score runs. I thought I'd roll the dice and take a shot and it didn't work out."
Self added, "Trying to the score the guy with two outs is probably the right thing to do. That's probably what I would've done. Jamie just made a perfect relay throw right to Jacob."
The game didn't count towards conference standings since the two have already played this year.
Sikeston is 3-2 in conference play while the Mules are 3-4.
Poplar Bluff will play at NMCC on Saturday at 12 p.m.
Sikeston will have three SEMO Conference make up games in a row starting on Monday at Scott City at 4 p.m.
The Bulldogs will play at Kelly on Tuesday at 4 p.m. and they will host Notre Dame on Wednesday at 4 p.m.