JACKSON -- The Sikeston Auxiliary Unit 114 baseball team successfully defended the Junior American Legion District 14 Tournament crown on Sunday, holding off Jackson in the championship game, 9-8.
The team will now play in the zone tournament in St. Louis this week.
"We'll go up there, do our best, and try to represent Sikeston baseball the best we can," said Sikeston coach Jeff Limbaugh. "We played some good teams up here and we get to defend the district this team won last year."
After beating Cape Girardeau in the first round, Sikeston's semifinal game against Jackson on Friday was rained out.
The game was moved to Saturday, where Unit 114 pulled out a 5-4 win to advance to the championship.
With the game tied 3-3 in the sixth, Chris Nance blasted a home run and Sikeston never looked back.
Ross Merideth shut down the Jackson lineup through five innings, picking up the complete-game win. In six innings of work, he allowed four runs on 10 hits and no walks with five strikeouts.
"Ross threw a heck of a game," said Limbaugh. "He gutted it out. He didn't get a lot of strikeouts, but he didn't walk anybody. If you play good defense, he's there. It was a hot night and he wanted the ball. He shut down a pretty good Jackson squad and got the win."
Other hits came from Ben Pyles, Jordan Kimball, Martin Schaefer and Eric Chappell. Jackson's Beussink was charged with the loss.
Jackson came back through the consolation bracket, beating Dunklin County on Saturday to earn another shot at Sikeston. Since Sikeston was 2-0 in the district, Jackson had to beat Unit 114 twice on Sunday to win the championship.
They were able to win the first game 11-4.
Unit 114 jumped out to a 3-0 lead, only to see Jackson plate five unanswered runs to take a 5-3 advantage. Things took a turn for the worse in the sixth inning as Sikeston committed five errors and Jackson added six more runs to open the floodgates.
"We hit the ball well and we've got good pitching," said Limbaugh. "But when we don't play good defense, we are a very mediocre team. That's how we let Jackson hang around. We would jump out on top with our sticks, then we would kind of lose that intensity. We've got to find a way to keep them focused defensively for 21 outs a night."
Cullen DeHart started, but Nance was charged with the loss. Landers also pitched for Unit 114.
At the plate, Josh Miller paced Sikeston batting 2-for-3. Other hits came from Merideth, Pyles, Kimball, Nance and J.R. Bizzell. Jackson's Longman picked up the win.
The Jackson victory forced the two teams to play the "if-necessary" game later on Sunday. Sikeston was able to hold off a Jackson rally and pull out a 9-8 win.
Sikeston led 9-1, but Jackson quickly turned a blowout into a tight game with seven runs in the fifth inning.
"We let them back in by not playing very good defense," said Limbaugh. "The boys hung right in there and they weren't going to be denied. They decided they wanted to win the district championship, and they did."
Kimball got the win, pitching the first four innings. He allowed seven runs on eight hits, one walk and had four strikeouts. Miller came on in relief and threw the final three frames. He gave up one run on three hits and no walks with four strikeouts.
"Miller came in and threw well," said Limbaugh. "He shut the door. Our pitching was probably a little deeper than Jackson's because we were able to stay on the winner's side of the bracket. We were lucky to have a fresh Josh Miller to close things out for us tonight."
At the plate, Miller went 2-for-3. Landers was 1-for-3 with two runs, two RBIs and a double. Other hits came from Kimball, Pyles, DeHart, Nance, Chappell and Hunter. Jackson's Watkins was charged with the loss.
"We've played that team eight times this year, beating them six out of eight," said Limbaugh. "They are a very good team that hits the ball well. I'm tired of playing them. I'm glad we're not going to see them anymore."
Team members are Richard Landers, Ben Pyles, Chris Nance, Jeffrey Hunter, Josh Miller, Martin Schaefer, Cullen DeHart, Ross Merideth, Eric Chappell, Jordan Penn, Jordan Kimball, John Robert Bizzell, Tyler Baker, Matt Limbaugh, Andy Gantner and Clay Lincoln. The team is coached by Jeff Limbaugh, Todd Baker and Jamie Puckett.