(Photos by David Jenkins, Staff)
The Bulldogs improved to 4-0 on the season and 3-0 in conference play with a 5-2 win against Cape Central on a cold, windy day at VFW Stadium on Wednesday.
The win marks the 12th time Sikeston has defeated Cape Central in the last 15 meetings.
The Bulldogs appeared to be unfazed by the weather in the early going as they jumped out to a 4-0 lead off a three-run homer by Jacob Priday.
But the offense slowed down after that and Sikeston hurler Lance Rhodes was able to contain the Tiger offense.
After scoring four in the first inning, Cape Central closed the gap to 4-1 with a run-scoring single by Scott Brueckner.
The Bulldogs had runners on base in every inning but they were only able to score one other run the rest of the game, that coming on a Zach Fayette RBI-double in the bottom of the third.
Cape Central (1-2, 1-2 SEMO Conference) tacked on one final run in the top of the seventh when Rhodes uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Corey Husky to score. The Tigers had the tying run on deck but never could plate another runner.
Priday's home run is his third of the season in the first four games. He finished 1-for-2, including an intentional walk and another walk in which he was pitched around.
"Jacob's swinging the bat really well," said Self. "After that they put him on. They didn't want any part of him. Everything that he's seeing his first time up he seems to be right on."
After the rocky start, Cape Central starter Jake Welch appeared headed straight for the bench.
But he managed to get out of the first inning without complete disaster.
He kept the Bulldog offense in check after that.
He ended up taking the loss in six innings of work, allowing five runs off 10 hits. He walked three and struck out one.
Jason Umfleet threw a scoreless seventh in relief.
"We needed to find a way to get out of that first inning sooner," said Cape Central head coach Steve Williams. "After that, Jake settled in and pitched a great five or six innings there. But that damage had been done. It was a tough day to hit, being cold and wet. We just couldn't quite muster enough offense."
Rhodes threw all seven innings in picking up the win. He allowed two runs off five hits. He struck out four and walked three.
"Lance is an excellent pitcher -- he's always been good against us and he's always going to be good," said Williams. "The thing that Lance can do is throw all his pitches for strikes. He can pitch behind in the count and he can throw his breaking ball when he wants to. To be an effective pitcher that's what you have to do and that's why he wins."
Sikeston got two hits apiece out of Blake DeWitt, Nathan Eaves and Fayette.
Despite the missed scoring opportunities, Self is just happy to keep winning.
"You want to continue to beat Cape," said Self. "We've had some good battles the last few years with them. Plus it's another conference win. We're counting that first, that's what we want. Then we'll worry about districts."
The Bulldogs will play at Poplar Bluff on Tuesday at 4 p.m.