(photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON - The Sikeston Senior American Legion Post 114 baseball team opened its season with an 11-1 victory against the Dexter Legion at VFW Stadium on Tuesday.
Sikeston turned a 2-1 game in the fifth inning into a blowout, scoring five runs in the fifth, three more in the sixth and added the another run in the seventh to enforce the 10-run rule.
The game was scheduled to be a nine-inning affair under the new rules.
Sikeston will host Perryville on Thursday at 6 p.m.
In the fifth inning the Sikeston bats came alive starting with a leadoff triple from Lance Rhodes.
Scotty Keenan and Blake DeWitt had RBI-singles and Nathan Eaves had a two-run single to make it 7-1.
"You also have to give the kid from Dexter credit through the first four innings, he threw the ball well," said Sikeston head coach Charlie Dye. "He kept us off balance and we didn't get anything going. The kids might have been trying too hard but they settled down and started playing some ball."
All but four of Sikeston's 13 players were members of the Sikeston High School Class 3A Final Four team, which concluded its season just this past Saturday.
So Dye's team hasn't had hardly any practice time.
"The kids are coming off the state tournament up there and you have three or four that haven't seen a pitch or swung at a ball in two or three weeks," said Dye.
And the team looked rusty through the first four innings. Keenan's two-run single in the bottom of the second inning gave Post 114 a 2-0 edge.
Dexter got a run back in the top of the third on a double steal in which Andy Cook was safe at home to cut the lead to 2-1.
That's where things stood until the fifth.
"I think they're improving," said Dye of Dexter. "The first boy especially threw well, the catcher threw out two of the fastest runners we have. They're getting better."
In the sixth, Priday and Jake Kimball each had RBI-singles. Andrew Lambert singled hard to left field in his first at-bat since last summer. Brad Deere ended the game with a walk-off single to plate Dustin Kelley for the run-rule.
Sikeston had solid defense in the game, making zero errors.
"That's what it's going to take," said Dye. "We will have a good defensive ballclub and if our pitchers will throw strikes and let the defense help them, then we'll be fine. They did that today and that's all we're asking of them."
Kimball picked up the win, throwing six innings and allowing just three hits and one run. He struck out five and walked four.
Relief pitcher Mark Adam Wade retired the side in order in the seventh to close out the game.
Adam Garrett went 2-4, both bunt singles, with two runs. DeWitt went 2-4 with an RBI and a run and Keenan went 2-3 with three RBIs and a run to lead Sikeston, which had 13 hits in the game.
Powell led Dexter with two hits.
Sikeston has one of its youngest teams in years, but many of them make up last year's Sikeston junior legion team that went 44-9 and finished second in the state.
"We have seven sophomores out of 13 on the roster," said Dye. "But they're seasoned. It's the same bunch that played on the high school team. It's just going to take a little time to get to know each of the other players. We're going to have some of the kids play different positions that they're not used to. They'll make some mistakes early and it will take a while to get them all on the same page. But after that I think we'll be fine. We've never had in my nine years seven sophomores. You have to consider us a young ballclub, but from the games they've played -- they're experienced. There's not much they haven't seen or done."