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Wednesday, Apr. 16, 2014

Bulldogs stumble in title game

Sunday, May 25, 2003

(Photo)
Sikeston coach Kevin Self (17) and assistant coach Alan Scheeter (12) talk to the team following Friday's loss.
DEXTER - The Sikeston Bulldogs' dominance in Class 3 came to an abrupt end on Friday when they lost 7-3 to Notre Dame in the Class 3, District 1 championship game at Dexter's East City Park.

The Bulldog bats were stifled on the afternoon by pitcher Blake Urhahn while Notre Dame used a six-run second inning to blow the game open.

"They were better than us today," said Sikeston head coach Kevin Self. "They're not a better club than we are, but they were better today. They out-played us. They got the big hits. We had chances and we couldn't get the big hit. That's part of the game."

Urhahn allowed three runs off seven hits to go with his 10 strikeouts and five walks in 6 1/3 innings.

"He's had great luck against Sikeston," said Notre Dame head coach Jeff Graviett. "He's struggled against some teams but he gets fire up to play Sikeston. He likes to be in these type of situations."

Sikeston finally got something started in the bottom of the seventh when they had runners on first and second with one out. Graviett lifted Urhahn and brought in staff ace Lee Essner to close the door.

"He's been our best pitcher all year long," said Graviett. "We were going to win or lose with our best pitcher on the mound."

Nathan Eaves promptly singled to load the bases, but Essner got Scotty Keenan and Cullen DeHart to fly out to end the game.

"We had a chance, that's all we can ask for," said Self.

"That's one thing I like about our club, we don't quit. We had a chance. Scotty just didn't quite get the big barrel on the ball. I thought maybe he might crack one. I was sure hoping."

Sikeston stranded 10 base runners on the day.

Bulldog starter Lance Rhodes was roughed up for seven runs off five hits and five walks in 3 2/3 innings pitched. Self pulled Rhodes in the second inning and brought in Blake DeWitt, but the junior was pitching one day after throwing five innings against Kennett.

"Blake's just a competitor, but his arm was bothering him and I got out of him what I could," said Self. "Lance was better the second time, but he just didn't have it today."

DeWitt threw 3 1/3 innings and allowed just two hits with four strikeouts.

Rhodes reentered in the sixth and pitched two scoreless innings. But the damage had already been done.

"We had a real good inning against him," said Graviett. "I guess we got somewhat of a break getting Lance today. Nothing against Lance, he's a great pitcher, but Blake's owned us. And he did again today. Blake came in and shut us down."

DeWitt struck out 14 Notre Dame batters in an 8-1 victory earlier this season. Sikeston also beat Notre Dame 4-2 in the season opener.

Notre Dame (19-6) got the early lead with a solo home run by Matt Wulfers in the top of the first.

Sikeston came back to take the lead at 2-1 when Eaves walked in a run and Keenan had a groundout-RBI.

Notre Dame's rally in the second inning started with a bloop single to right field. It appeared Rhodes would get out of the jam but he walked three straight batters with two outs.

With the scored tied 2-2, Lee Essner cleared the bases with a double that was just out of the reach of Eaves in right field to make it 5-2.

Wulfers followed with a run-scoring double to make it 6-2 to chase Rhodes from the hill.

DeWitt entered and gave up a run-scoring single to Dustin Tatum before getting a third out.

It was all the runs Urhahn would need.

Sikeston had several scoring chances but couldn't get the timely hits.

Keenan provided Sikeston's final run with a double to centerfield to score DeWitt.

"That's the game of baseball," said Graviett. "Anything can happen on any day. We're playing well right now and they had a tough game. We had one big inning. This has been our focus all year long, especially moving up in a class, and knowing we were going to have to go through these guys. These guys are a class club. They're well-coached, they're great players.

"They deserved that No. 1 ranking all year. They have a great program and they're going to be back. They're going to be the team to beat next year. It's a great group of juniors."

DeWitt and Jacob Priday led the Bulldogs with two hits each. DeWitt scored two runs. Keenan had two RBIs.

Sikeston, ranked No. 1 in Class 3 for most of the year, ends its season at 23-2. The Bulldogs will lose one full-time starter to graduation in Drew Lawrence. Adam Miller, Brandon Eldridge and Luke Jackson will also graduate.

The Bulldogs had won back-to-back district championships and had reached the Class 3A Final Four the last two years. There will be no return trip this year.

"It's a disappointing year for us just because we were expected to do so well," said Self. "But that's the thing, when you get that target, people are after you all year. Somewhere down the line your armor's going to crack. Today ours' cracked. It's disappointing that it cracked now at this point of the season.

"Most of our kids will be back and I know most of their kids will be back. So it will be like Kennett the last couple years. We'll get another shot at them maybe next year. It's a good year and it's a great record, but it's still disappointing."