Baseball team clinches fourth straight tourney championship
PARAGOULD, Ark. -- The Sikeston Bulldogs baseball team clinched its fourth straight Greene County Tech Tournament championship on Saturday with a 6-2 victory against the host school.
Sikeston (8-2) defeated Paragould earlier on Saturday 10-0 in six innings. The Bulldogs outscored their three opponents in the tournament 31-2 over the weekend.
"For whatever reason, we played extremely well down there," said Sikeston head coach Kevin Self. "I think they're getting tired of us going down there."
The last time Sikeston didn't win the tournament was in 1998 when they took second to Senath-Hornersville.
"We swung the bats well and we didn't make many mistakes," said Self. "Usually this is the week that we start getting everything together."
The Bulldogs finished a tough week with a 5-1 record, falling only to Jackson on Thursday.
With injuries depleting the pitching staff, Self had to go with two hurlers that hadn't thrown in a varsity game before.
Adam Garrett picked up a 15-0 shutout win against Wynne on Friday. He only needed 52 pitches in six innings to get the victory.
On Saturday, Self went with Drew Lawrence in the championship game. The junior got the win, throwing four innings and allowing two runs (one earned) off six hits and two walks with two strikeouts.
Blake DeWitt got the save, throwing scoreless perfect innings. He struck out four and didn't allow a hit or a walk.
"With the injuries we've had, especially to (Chris) Cota, we had to develop some pitching pretty fast," said Self. "Garrett pitched as a freshman and he was the best one we had on the jayvee that year. Drew throws in the summertime on Legion and I thought he threw extremely well. Both of those kids are going to start pitching more.
"That's the best thing about this weekend, besides winning, was that we found more pitching."
In the championship, Sikeston took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning on a Jamie Puckett 2-run home run with two outs.
GCT scored one in the bottom of the first but the Bulldogs responded with three more runs in the top of the third inning to lead 5-1.
GCT plated one more run in the fourth inning to make it 5-2 but they couldn't get any closer.
Sikeston was led offensively by sophomore Lance Rhodes who went 2-4 with a double and four RBIs.
Others were Adam Garrett (2-4), Jacob Priday (2-4, 2B, 2 runs), Puckett (2-4, HR, 2 RBIs, 2 runs), Lawrence (2 runs) and Nathan Eaves (1-4).
DeWitt failed to get a hit for the first time this year, snapping a nine-game hitting streak.
In the semifinals, Rhodes pitched all six innings, allowing two hits with four walks and two hit batters. He struck out six.
Sikeston jumped out to a 6-0 lead after two innings and plated four more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to enforce the 10-run rule.
Priday went 3-3 with two doubles, six RBIs and three runs scored. Puckett went 3-4 with three RBIs and a double.
Others were Garrett (2-3, 3 runs), DeWitt (1-4, 2 runs), Eaves (1-3), Scotty Keenan (run) and Josh Monroe (run).
"Puckett started swinging really well in the tournament," said Self. "Rhodes, Eaves, Priday -- they're all starting to see the ball better. We've got to have nine guys contribute because you can't win with just one or two."