JACKSON - The Sikeston Auxiliary Unit 114 baseball team picked up a huge first round victory on Thursday in the Junior American Legion District 14 Tournament at Jackson's Legion Park.
Sikeston withstood a late rally by Cape Junior Legion Post 63 to win 4-3.
Sikeston (25-12) moves on to the winner's bracket where they will play the winner of the Dunklin County-Jackson game tonight at 8 p.m.
Cape remains alive in the double elimination tournament. They will play the loser of the Dunklin County-Jackson game.
Sikeston got an outstanding pitching performance from Jordan Kimball, who went the distance in picking up the win. He allowed just five hits and five walks while striking out eight.
"Once he had a good first inning, he gets stronger as it goes on," said Sikeston head coach Jeff Limbaugh of Kimball. "Can you believe that kid's only going to be a freshman? That kid's going to be tough. He throws the ball hard and he competes."
Sikeston built a 4-0 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh but Cape put together one last rally.
The game reached its climax when Post 63 loaded the bases with one out and star player Mitch Craft batting.
Kimball got Craft to hit it back at him where it deflected off his glove. A run scored but he still had the wherewithal to throw the speedy Craft out at first.
Limbaugh considered pulling Kimball but the hurler wanted to finish the game.
"Mitch Craft was at the plate and the bases are loaded and he wanted it," said Limbaugh. "Craft hit it hard but he's a good fielder, he deflected it and changed the whole game around with that play defensively."
But Kimball wasn't out the jam yet.
There were still runners on second and third with two outs. Cape pinch hitter Jeremy Brinkmeyer lined a single up the middle to score two more runs to cut the lead to 4-3.
Kimball finally ended the threat when he got Patrick Slattery to flyout to Eric Chappell in left field.
"(Slattery) got underneath it a little bit," said Limbaugh. "We were going to pitch him like we did Craft and make him hit a curve ball. Jordan got two strikes on him and we made the catch."
Up to the seventh inning, only one Cape base runner reached third base the entire game.
Sikeston had trouble scoring runs too, but they were able to make Cape starter Blake Urhahn throw a lot of pitches.
"I thought the key was that we threatened early," said Limbaugh. "We made him work a lot and his pitch count was real high. We always had something going and we couldn't capitalize, but it gradually wore him down."
Sikeston got on the board in the top of the fifth when Ben Pyles doubled off the left field fence, scoring Ross Merideth.
Leading 1-0, Sikeston chased Urhahn from the hill in the sixth inning after 126 pitches when he loaded the bases by giving up a double, walking a batter and hitting another.
Lee Essner, who is considered Cape's ace, entered the game and promptly gave up an RBI-single to J.R. Bizzell to make it 2-0.
Essner appeared to work his way out of the jam but Richard Landers blooped a double past a diving right fielder to score two more runs.
"That's what it takes to win games like that is to get that clutch hitting," said Limbaugh. "We've been hitting up and down the lineup. J.R. in our No. 9 spot won't hit for much power but he'll put the ball in play. He came through with a big hit. Ben's been hitting for us all year and Landers' hit ended up being big."
Kimball also had a huge day at the plate, going 3-4 with two doubles.
Cape had no multiple hitters.
"They've got a great team and I still say they're the favorite," said Limbaugh. "We're glad to win this one and I'd bet that we'll see them again."