Sikeston routs Jackson 17-0 in title game
CAPE GIRARDEAU - After a good day in the batting cages Monday afternoon, the Sikeston Bulldogs baseball knew their bats would be ready for Jackson in the championship game of the SEMO Conference Tournament later that night.
But nobody could've expected the 17-0 blowout the third-seeded Bulldogs put on the fourth-seeded Indians at Capaha Field.
It was by far Sikeston's most impressive offensive display of the season as they jumped out to a 16-0 lead after two innings before the game was stopped in the fifth due to the mercy rule.
The Bulldogs sent 26 batters to the plate in the first two innings.
"We just couldn't get them out," said Jackson head coach Sam Sides, whose team falls to 12-6. "I don't think we played that bad, they just played outstanding offensively. They hit the ball and there was nothing we could do."
The Bulldogs (16-2) didn't just hit the ball -- they crushed it...all over the field. It was exactly what Sikeston head coach Kevin Self was looking for after his team lost to the Indians 10-9 earlier this year.
In that game, Sikeston scored eight runs in the third inning but coasted the rest of the way and eventually got beat by the Indians.
"We had several guys hitting it and they just kept on hitting it," said Self. "That's what you've got to do. When you're playing a good club and you've got a chance to get them down -- you better step on them. Because if you don't, then they can come back and beat you. That's what they did to us the last time. We got eight runs in one inning, we sat on the lead, and they came back and beat us."
Adam Garrett led off the top of the first with a sharp single to left field followed up by a bloop single to center by Blake DeWitt. Jacob Priday then doubled to plate both runners.
The rout was on.
Later in the inning, Nathan Eaves had a two-run double, Garrett had a two-run double, DeWitt had a run-scoring single and Priday had a run-scoring triple.
Sikeston led 9-0 after one inning of play.
"Sikeston the last four or five years swings the bats as good as anybody we play no matter where we go," said Sides. "You've just got to hope they hit it at somebody. When we beat them we had to score double figures to do it and you're not going to do that against a good pitcher."
Bulldog hurler Lance Rhodes was plenty good. The sophomore right-hander tossed a two-hit shutout, allowing just one walk. He faced three batters over the minimum.
"He's a pretty good pitcher -- I've never seen him before," said Sides. "He throws it well, he keeps it down. We got down emotionally and it's pretty tough to comeback. We kept plugging, but he overmatched us on the mound. It just wasn't our day -- you hate to see it in the championship game."
The Bulldogs picked up where they left off in the second inning. Eaves had an RBI-single, DeWitt had a bases clearing triple, Priday had a run-scoring double and Chris Cota had a two-run single.
Sikeston scored its last run in the fifth inning when Scotty Keenan doubled and scored on a DeWitt sacrifice fly.
It was the Bulldogs' sixth sacrifice fly in their three games in the tournament.
"When you've got the lights on with a big-game situation, I like to see us play like this," said Self. "Up and down the lineup, we hit the ball as hard tonight as we've hit it probably all year. I was really proud of the way Lance threw the ball. He had good pop, he threw the breaking ball for strikes. That's just another plus. We had Cota throwing good the other day and we've got Lance throwing well now. We hope that continues because districts is right around the corner."
Cota threw a no-hitter against Dexter in the semifinals on Saturday.
The Bulldogs, which have now won 11 in a row, avenged both of their losses this year in the tournament, including a 10-7 first round victory against Cape Central.
It also made up for last year's second place finish to Chaffee and star hurler Matt Stroup in last year's inaugural tournament.
"Last year Stroup stuck it right up our tail and some of the kids that were on that team last year realize that it's no fun coming up short," said Self. "Jackson's feeling that right now but they'll be back. They've got a good, solid team. The seeds worked out great for us to be able to play the two teams that had beaten us earlier."
Sikeston's 1-2-3 hitters combined to go 8-10 with 11 RBIs and eight runs scored. DeWitt went 3-4 with five RBIs and three runs. Priday was 3-3 with four RBIs and two runs. Garrett was 2-3 with two RBIs and three runs.
Eaves, the Bulldogs' No. 8 hitter, went 2-3 with three RBIs and two runs. Sikeston will host NMCC in a SEMO Conference game on Wednesday at 4 p.m.
The second-seeded Dexter Bearcats held off a five-run rally by the top-seeded Bulldogs to take third place.
Notre Dame led 3-0 in the top of the third inning and threatened to break the game open but relief pitcher Josh Miller retired the side with the bases loaded to get out of the jam.
Dexter followed that up with a nine-run bottom half of the third inning to lead 9-3.
"Josh slamming the door on them in the third inning kind of got our team pumped up a little bit," said Dexter head coach Brian Becker. "We're the type of team that once we get going we can put some runs together because we've got decent speed on the basepaths and we can create some things."
Notre Dame had the tying run on second base in the seventh inning but Justin Sanders struck out Timmy Wencewicz to end the game to record the save.
Miller was credited with the win.
"I was proud of our showing in the tournament this year despite of what we looked like against Sikeston," said Becker. "That wasn't our team, Chris Cota just threw a heck of a ballgame against us. But I'm proud of the way we bounced back tonight against a good team."