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Sikeston baseball thrashes Jackson, 14-1

Friday, May 13, 2005

JACKSON -- Sikeston's Cullen DeHart missed a potential game-winning home run by a matter of inches the last time the Bulldogs faced Jackson.

On Thursday, DeHart kept one fair to stake the Bulldogs to the early lead in a 14-1 thrashing of Jackson on Monday at Legion Field.

"Once we got started, everything started rolling after that," said DeHart, whose bid for a three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh hooked just foul at Sikeston's VFW Stadium in mid-April, allowing the Indians to escape with a 5-3 SEMO Conference win.

Sikeston (17-5) left nothing to chance, applying pressure to the regular-

season conference champions early with four first-inning runs before a single putout.

Leadoff hitter J.R. Bizzell lined a single to center against Jackson starter Kyle Brown, then, following a walk to Richard Landers, DeHart teed off on a belt-

high fastball, his second in two days, easily clearing the right-field fence for a 3-0 lead.

The next batter Tyler Baker doubled and scored on Josh Jackson's RBI single to center.

It was the first of five RBIs for the sophomore Jackson. He went 3-for-4, including a two-run homer.

Bizzell matched Jackson's three hits as that duo paced the Bulldogs' 13-hit attack.

DeHart and Baker added two hits apiece and Matt Limbaugh, Jerod Scott and pinch-hitter Ryan Dicus collected the other Sikeston safeties.

On Jackson's big day, Sikeston coach Kevin Self, said, "He's been in a little slump and it's good to see him come out. I see that certain guys in our lineup, like Jackson and Limbaugh, who have had tough seasons swinging the bat are starting to come alive. If they come alive, along with the likes of Bizzell, Baker and DeHart, then we've got seven or eight guys that can put the ball in play.

"And that's what it's going to take, no doubt about it, to win our district. You've got to be able to score some runs."

Sikeston, the No. 1 seed, opens district play on Monday, hosting No. 8 Fredericktown at 12:30 p.m. at VFW Stadium.

But, on this day, there was still work to do against the Indians.

Jackson starter Brown, going with more off-speed and breaking pitches, held the Bulldogs at bay through the second and third, then reliever Joel Penrod tossed two scoreless innings.

"Their pitchers settled in and we didn't get anything," said Self.

The Indians (16-3) put two baserunners aboard with no outs in the third, then the Bulldogs caught a break when the next batter was called out on an interference call when he ran into his batted ball in fair territory.

A hit batsman loaded the bases with one out, but a 5-5-3 double play got the Bulldogs and starting pitcher Ross Merideth out of the jam.

"I was kind of disappointed (in) the way we came out, as far as mental focus, hitting-wise," said Jackson coach Rex Crosnoe, "but Merideth and DeHart are good throwers and I don't want to take anything away from them. They had us off balance all day long."

Merideth went five innings for the win, allowing one earned run on three hits with five strikeouts and two walks.

DeHart mopped up with two scoreless, no-hit innings with four strikeouts and one walk.

"They saw our best and I thought both of our pitchers did a good job of mixing pitches and staying down and our defense played well when they had to," said Self.

Jackson was hitless until the fourth inning, then finally pushed across its lone run in the fifth, but Sikeston's Self was still a bit uncomfortable with the slim 4-1 lead.

He said, "They had an opportunity and scored and I know from experience they're real dangerous because they can look like nothing for a couple of innings, then jump on you and you look up and you're down. It's happened here before. I've been up 9-3 and gotten beat 16-15, stuff like that.

"You don't know what kind of a game you're in for when you come up here."

Not to worry.

The Bulldogs pounced on the Indians for three runs in the sixth to go up 7-1, then added seven more in the seventh to complete the rout on Jackson's Senior Day.

(Josh) Jackson's two-run homer to left-centerfield at the 333-foot marker highlighted the sixth-inning uprising.

The Bulldogs paraded 11 to the plate in the seventh, with Bizzell and Jackson driving home two runs apiece.

"We went out with a bang," said DeHart, of the Bulldogs' regular-season finale.