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Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016

Bulldogs blank Red Devils

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Chaffee's Jeff Daugherty slides into Sikeston's Blake DeWitt.
SIKESTON - It wasn't too long ago when the Chaffee Red Devils were the kings of the SEMO Conference.

In fact, it was just three years ago when they claimed the SEMO Conference Tournament championship and the regular season title.

But things have taken a turn for the worse as the Red Devil lineup is littered with freshmen.

The inexperience showed on Monday at VFW Stadium as the Class 3, top-ranked Sikeston Bulldogs blanked the Red Devils 11-0 in six innings.

Bulldog hurler Ross Merideth was unhittable, literally, as he threw a no-hitter in all six innings, striking out 14. His only mistakes were two walks in the fourth inning.

It's Sikeston's second no-hitter this season with Blake DeWitt tossing one earlier this month.

"I thought he threw the ball well," said Sikeston coach Kevin Self. "There was one inning where he started guiding the ball a little bit and he walked a couple. But all in all he threw the ball well, I mean 14 strikeouts, what can you say?"

Merideth helped his own cause by hitting a two-run home run in the first inning.

Sikeston had 10 hits in all, including four home runs.

DeWitt had a pair of two-run homers over the right field fence, including the game-ending shot in the bottom of the sixth inning.

"Sikeston's got a tremendous ballclub," said Chaffee head coach Brian Horrell. "That's what you get when you have a group that has been together for a long time. Those kids do a tremendous amount of work in the offseason, that's what people don't see."

Sikeston (14-0, 7-0 SEMO Conference) rattled off five runs in the bottom of the first to jump out to the early lead.

Lance Rhodes hit a solo home run and Jacob Priday just missed a home run by a foot, getting an RBI-double.

DeWitt's two-run mammoth shot in the bottom of the second gave Sikeston a 7-0 lead.

Meanwhile, Merideth struck out five straight batters in the first and second innings. After a shaky third inning in which he walked two batters, he found his groove again, striking out nine consecutive batters.

"We got a couple baserunners on in the fourth inning and we tried a few bunts -- we're not worried about the score, we're trying to do things that will make us a better ballclub," said Horrell. "But tip your hat to him, 14 strikeouts out of the 19 -- he really did a nice job."

Chaffee falls to 3-10 on the season and 0-8 in the SEMO Conference. The Red Devils have fared well against schools their own size, going 3-1 against district opponents.

The Red Devils start seven freshmen and lost two of their top three players earlier in the season for various reasons.

"We're going to run our freshmen out there," said Horrell. "We're in it for the long haul so maybe some day we can build something special like we had a few years ago."

The wide margin early in the game allowed Self to clear his bench. Eric Chappell and Garland Hemphill both responded with singles and runs.

"We got everybody in and gave them all a chance to play," said Self. "I was happy to do that and give them a chance to play because it's tough to crack our lineup."

One area of concern that Self had was the fact that the Bulldogs hadn't played since beating Jackson on April 15, a span of 11 days.

But there were no signs of rust on Monday.

"We played our best game of the year against Jackson and then we had to sit for over a week," said Self. "We were wanting to get back on the field. It was good to see we were still swinging well today. We've been inside with all the rain. It's been unbearable, you just can't take being in that gym for much longer. The pitchers don't get to throw and you don't see live pitching with batting practice."

DeWitt led Sikeston, going 3-4 with four RBIs and three runs. Priday was 2-3 with an RBI and two runs.

Jesse Gettings took the loss for Chaffee, throwing five full innings.

Sikeston will play at Notre Dame today at 4 p.m. The Bulldogs will have a makeup game at Webster Groves on Thursday.

The SEMO Conference Tournament, which the Bulldogs have won the last two years, will start on Friday.

"That's an important part of our season, that conference tournament," said Self. "We'd like to win that one more time."