COLUMBIA - Still smarting from a loss in the Class 3A semifinals, the Sikeston Bulldogs baseball team came out flat against Ozark in the third place game, falling 11-1 in six innings on Saturday at Taylor Stadium.
The Bulldogs fell behind early and never could piece together any kind of offense off Ozark hurler Jon Horn.
"Basically our bats kind of went silent," said Sikeston head coach Kevin Self. "We had several hits but we were just getting them with two outs. We couldn't string them together to get anything going."
Ozark scored 10 runs in the final three innings to 10-run rule the Bulldogs. It's the first time since last year's 3A championship game against Jefferson City Helias that Sikeston has been run-ruled.
"Once they got an opportunity they kind of stepped on us," said Self. "Part of it was we made a few mistakes, part of it was we were still down from yesterday. We never did recover from yesterday. They're a good club. I'd like to play them again under different circumstances."
The Bulldogs (21-4) had several mental miscues, committing four errors in the game including a fielder's interference in the sixth inning to plate the decisive 10th run for the Tigers.
"I told the kids that we can go out here 0-2 or 1-1," said Ozark head coach Mike Essick. "Every game up to this point in the season is over. We got thrown off our horse yesterday, let's get back on and get after it today. We wanted to try to come out and try to be the aggressors today. Things just fell our way."
Ozark grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Jon Calvin reached third on a wild pitch and then scored on a passed ball. It set the tone for a long afternoon for the Bulldogs.
Sikeston stranded runners in every inning except the sixth when Self emptied his bench.
Horn was able to get out of several jams with his team playing good defense behind him.
"He scattered some hits -- they hit three or four balls hard at us, but that's why you wear a glove, that's baseball," said Essick. "He threw pretty well and he wanted to finish the game."
Horn (6-5) pitched all six, allowing one run off seven hits. He struck out three and walked one.
"I was a little surprised that we contained their offense because we watched them play and I know last year from Branson playing them that they've got a good club," said Essick. "I know they graduated a lot of kids but they've got a lot of good young kids. We expect to see them back here for the next year or two."
Ozark (22-9) scored three runs in the top of the fourth highlighted by Chris Jackson's two-run triple.
The Tigers scored three more in the fifth and four in the sixth.
Sikeston plated its lone run in the bottom of the fifth when Jacob Priday plated Blake DeWitt with a single.
Lance Rhodes (6-1) was saddled with the loss, throwing four innings and allowing four runs (two earned) off three hits. He struck out three and walked two.
Jamie Puckett and DeWitt combined for the final two innings. They allowed seven runs (six earned) off nine hits and two walks.
Priday went 3-for-3 with an RBI. Chris Cota was 2-2 with a double.
Jackson went 3-4 with three RBIs for Ozark, which pounded out 12 hits.
It was Sikeston's first third place game since the inception of the game in 1985. The Bulldogs have made it to the championships eight times.
It's the third year in a row that Sikeston has won 20 or more games.
"We had a great year and we won a lot of ballgames -- anytime you win over 20 ballgames you've done something right," said Self. "It's just disappointing for the kids to come up and not play our best. It's still fun to come and still fun to play. I'm proud of our kids for the way they conducted themselves and the way they handled situations. We have class kids -- that's what I'm most proud of."