SIKESTON - The Sikeston 13-year-old Junior Babe Ruth All-Stars split two games on Saturday in the Missouri State Babe Ruth Tournament at VFW Stadium.
Sikeston lost its first game to Mineral Area 16-6 to drop to the loser's bracket.
However, Sikeston rebounded to eliminate Lebanon 2-0 to advance to the finals where they are scheduled to face Mineral Area today at 4 p.m. barring inclement weather. The game has been moved to the Junior Babe Ruth field at the Sikeston Recreational Complex.
Sunday's championship game was rained out. Sikeston must defeat Mineral Area twice to win the tournament.
Against Mineral Area on Saturday, Sikeston trailed 10-6 after six innings but the visitors exploded for six runs in the top of the seventh to blow the game open.
"Mineral Area's lineup is solid all the way through," said Sikeston coach Dave Strom. "They are very well coached and a good ballclub. They made it all the way through and they deserve to be where they are."
Sikeston's defense had a letdown as they committed five errors in the contest.
"We didn't play as good a defense as we're capable of," said Strom. "We did score some runs against them but we came out flat defensively. That's not our game at all. We usually play better defense."
The game was tied 2-2 after one inning but Mineral Area took control from there, scoring two runs in the second and six in the third to lead 10-2.
Sikeston came back with a run in the fourth and another in the sixth to close the gap to 10-6 but that was as close as they would get.
Logan Kirkpatrick was the losing pitcher in 2 1/3 innings pitched. Vince Howard threw 3 2/3 innings and Timmy Hart threw one inning.
Sikeston was led in hitting by Hart, who had a double and a single with a run and an RBI. Michael Brown also had two hits, including a double, with two runs scored. Jake Pewitt had two singles with an RBI and a run.
Others that contributed were Zach Howard (single, RBI), Vince Howard (run scored), Blair Bohannon (single, run), Stephen Beydler (single, RBI), Caleb Davidson (double, RBI) and Darin Dicus (RBI).
Against Lebanon, Sikeston scored a run in the second and one in the third to pull out the win.
Kirkpatrick was the winning pitcher, throwing four innings and allowing just two hits. He struck out two. Stuart Strom threw three shutout innings in relief, allowing three hits with a strikeout.
"Both of our pitchers were hitting their spots and kept their hitters off balance," said Strom. "They scattered those five hits. Our defense snapped back with a much better game. We got the outs when we needed them."
Sikeston scored its first run when Bohannon singled and eventually crossed the plate on a bases loaded walk by Beydler.
They scored again in the third when Vince Howard singled, stole second and third, and scored when the throw went into the outfield.
"They threw the same kid against us they did the first time," said Strom. "He's a good pitcher with a lot of movement. We had trouble with him both times but we were able to manufacture a couple runs against them."
Howard, Bohannon, Beydler, Pewitt and Brown all had singles for Sikeston.
The game ended in dramatic fashion as Lebanon loaded the bases in the seventh. With two outs, Pewitt tracked down a base hit into the left centerfield gap. He fired a throw to Hart at shortstop, who turned and relayed the throw to Zach Howard at home plate to nab the runner trying to score, ending the game.
"There were a couple times they had the bases loaded and we made the outs when we needed them," said Strom. "Pewitt made a spectacular running catch to end threat with bases loaded in the sixth. There were some exciting plays the last couple innings."
Now Sikeston will have to strap it up at least one more time against Mineral Area.
"Our young men came back after a tough loss and did what they had to do to get back in the title game," said Strom. "Mineral Area is a very good team and it will take everything we have to beat them. It's been an exciting tournament. The fans that have come out to watch have seen some exciting games."