(photo by David Jenkins)
JACKSON - The Sikeston Bulldogs have been losing base runners quite a bit this year.
This time it might have cost them a game.
On Thursday, the Bulldogs lost three base runners in a 10-9 loss to SEMO Conference rival Jackson at the Indians' Legion Park.
The Bulldogs lost four base runners against Kennett on Wednesday but were still able to hold on for the win. There was no such luck on Thursday.
"Once again our base running is as bad as I've seen," said Sikeston head coach Kevin Self. "We lost three guys and we've got to get better. I can understand situations where we'll make mistakes, but we're making the same mistakes over and over again. Some of it is probably my fault because we don't spend much time on it. We have not played very well. I think we were lucky to be 5-1. We've just got to go back to work and see what happens."
Even with the blunders, the Bulldogs had the Indians on the ropes. But with a tournament looming this weekend, and playing their third game in four days, the Bulldogs' pitching was running thin.
The Bulldogs (5-2, 2-2 SEMO Conference) started sophomore Scotty Keenan, who was relieved by senior Travis Deere, who hasn't thrown since his sophomore year.
"Travis hadn't thrown in two years and I was really happy with the way he threw the ball," said Self. "He didn't throw any last year when he was recovering from surgery. Scotty just had trouble with control today. When you get behind hitters, you're not going to get too many guys out."
The Bulldogs held an 8-3 lead but couldn't hold on. The big blow was a two-out, 3-run home run by Michael Birk in the bottom of the fifth inning to give the Indians a 9-8 lead.
"We've been scoring runs but we've been allowing a bunch of runs and today was no different but we hung in there," said Jackson head coach Sam Sides. "We made some plays. I thought our enthusiasm was better and our attitudes were better. Michael's 3-run homer and Trevor's home run at the last was big. We just kept plugging."
Jackson's Trevor Thompson hit a solo homer in the bottom of the sixth inning, which proved to be the difference.
Sikeston's Jamie Puckett singled home Blake DeWitt in the seventh inning to make it 10-9 but the Bulldogs couldn't plate any more.
Sikeston also had a couple of costly errors in the fourth inning which led to two unearned runs.
"We gave them a couple of runs with a couple errors and then they got the big bomb and that was the difference in the ballgame," said Self. "Probably the biggest hit was the solo blast there at the end. I thought we could scratch one out and maybe two but we didn't get it done."
Jackson (4-4, 2-2 SEMO) jumped ahead 3-0 in the bottom of the second inning off back-to-back RBI-doubles.
The Bulldogs followed that up with their best inning of the year, scoring eight runs with nine hits in the third inning to lead 8-3.
The big blast was from Josh Monroe, who put on a fake bunt, only to swing away for a game-tying 3-run homer. The first seven batters of the inning reached base safely.
"We're not going to shut anybody out, we've just got to score runs and take outs when they give them to us," said Self. "We had a tough time getting people out in the third inning, but that's the way it's been all year. We don't beat Sikeston very often so we'll take it when we can get it."
The Bulldog rally knocked starter Dusty Roberts out of the game, forcing Sides to bring in Jason Owen.
Sikeston had several hard hit balls off Owen, but they were right at the defenders.
"I don't think it was anything (Owen) was doing," said Self. "We had some good swings and hit four or five line drives right at them. We had some bad luck. I thought there in the third inning our bats woke up. We got an 8-3 lead and we just sat on it. When you do that then you get beat."
Jackson steadily chipped away at the Bulldog lead, with a run in the third inning and two more in the fourth to make it 8-6.
Deere took the loss, pitching four innings and allowing six runs (four earned) off five hits and four walks with two strikeouts.
Keenan pitched one-plus innings, allowing three runs off three hits with a walk and two strikeouts.
Owen picked up the win, throwing 4 1/3 innings and allowing one run off two hits and two walks with two strikeouts.
Thompson went 3-4 with two RBIs and two runs for the Indians. Sikeston was led by Puckett, Deere and Drew Lawrence, who each had two hits.
Nathan Eaves and Lawrence each had two RBIs.
Jackson will host Poplar Bluff today at 4:15 p.m. in another SEMO Conference game.
Sikeston will compete in the Greene County Tech Tournament in Paragould, Ark., today at 4 p.m. against Wynn, Ark.
The Bulldogs have won the tournament three years in a row.