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Friday, Aug. 1, 2014

ND breaks Sikeston's streak

Tuesday, May 3, 2005

(Photo)
Jerod Scott, Sikeston second baseman, bobbles the ball.
CAPE GIRARDEAU - The Sikeston Bulldogs got by two of the toughest pitchers in Southeast Missouri, but it was a lesser known lefty from Notre Dame that did them in at the 5th Annual SEMO Baseball Conference Tournament at Capaha Field Monday.

The second-seeded Bulldogs defeated New Madrid County Central's Jordan Kimball in the first round 10-0, and slipped past Cape Central's Brad LaBruyere in the semifinals Monday evening 4-2.

But the Bulldogs couldn't beat Notre Dame's Blake Essner for the second time this year as Notre Dame captured its first conference tournament title in the event's short five-year history.

Fourth-seeded Notre Dame withstood a seventh inning rally by Sikeston and held on for the 5-3 win Monday night.

Earlier in the day, Notre Dame upset top-seeded Jackson with ace pitcher Jason Meystedt on the mound, 2-0.

The loss snapped Sikeston's three-year championship run in the tournament. The Bulldogs have finished in second place the other two years.

Sikeston had defeated Essner and Notre Dame earlier in the season 7-2, but the southpaw was zeroed in for more than six innings on Monday and kept the Bulldog hitters in check.

"He's been up and down all year for us," said Notre Dame coach Jeff Graviett. "He struggled against Sikeston the first time down at their place. It all has to do with his curve ball. If he can get it over for strikes and has some control of it, then he can be successful. He got better as he went along. I was going to be satisfied with just two or three innings out of him."

Essner threw six-plus innings and allowed six hits and three runs. He was able to work himself in and out of trouble all night as he allowed five walks and hit a batter, but he also struck out six.

He was pulled in the seventh inning after the first two batters reached base.

Kirk Boeller entered the game and retired the final three batters on groundouts, although Sikeston was able to plate two runs on two of them.

"We were set on LaBruyere and once we beat him we kind of a had a letdown," said Sikeston coach Kevin Self. "We were flat, there's no doubt that we played flat for the championship game. We really thought we'd have to beat Kimball, then LaBruyere, and then I thought we'd have to get Meystedt. Instead he threw the first game and got beat by Notre Dame. Their confidence was up and they swung the bats better than we did. We just never got good swings off Blake. We had situations and opportunities to score but we couldn't get those big clutch hits."

Sikeston (13-4) got the early lead in the bottom of the second inning as Matt Limbaugh scored on a fielder's choice by Jerod Scott.

Notre Dame (11-7) took the lead for good in the top of the fourth as Dane Balsmann blasted a towering two-run home run to right field off Sikeston hurler Bryce Wibbenmeyer.

Notre Dame extended the lead to 3-1 on Jeremy Brinkmeyer's solo home run to left field that ricocheted off the scoreboard.

"It usually starts with one guy -- when somebody steps up and drives the baseball, then usually a lot of guys follow," said Graviett of Balsmann's home run.

"You're not going to see many high school balls hit harder than Dane hit that one. It was just a monster --

seeing how fast it got out of here."

Notre Dame was able to scratch out two more runs in the top of the sixth inning.

Essner tripled and scored on a double by Balsmann to centerfield. Later in the inning, Balsmann hustled around third and scored when Bulldog second baseman Jerod Scott kept a single on the infield, but his throw to first base was in the dirt as Notre Dame extended the lead to 5-1.

Wibbenmeyer took the loss in six innings pitched, allowing five runs (four earned) off six hits. He struck out two and walked none.

Scott threw a scoreless seventh inning in relief.

Sikeston had numerous chances to score but they stranded eight base runners.

In addition to being the winning pitcher, Essner was 3-4 with two runs scored.

Balsmann was 2-3 with three RBIs and two runs.

Sikeston was led by Eric Chappell's two singles. J.R. Bizzell, Tyler Baker and Richard Landers also had singles. Cullen DeHart had a triple.

The win by Notre Dame evens the season series with Sikeston at 1-1. The two are scheduled to play against next Tuesday at Notre Dame in a SEMO Conference regular season game.

Monday's game shouldn't affect district seedings since they've already been submitted.

"It's great for our program -- we beat two quality teams that are going to finish one and two in the conference," said Graviett. "We were the fourth seed coming in here and I really didn't think we deserved that."

In the first game against Cape Central, Sikeston fell behind in the first inning on Matt Hester's triple to bring home Zac Hudson.

Sikeston took the lead in the bottom of the second inning with two runs off just one hit.

Baker scored on a throwing error by the Cape Central catcher and Ross Merideth scored on a fielder's choice by Limbaugh.

Sikeston took a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the third. DeHart doubled and eventually scored on a single to left field by Limbaugh. The Bulldogs had a chance at another run by Baker was thrown out at the plate.

Cape Central (10-10) cut the lead to 3-2 in the top of the fourth as Scott Brueckner doubled home Hester. The Tigers had a great chance to tie the game, but Sikeston right fielder Josh Jackson made a diving catch to stop at least a run-scoring double.

But Merideth shut the Tigers down after that.

Merideth threw all seven innings, striking out nine and allowing six hits. He walked only one.

With the Tigers putting together one final rally in the top of the seventh, Merideth struck out the side.

"He really had his curve ball working today and we just didn't have enough times to put it in play, especially with runners on base," said Cape Central coach Steve Williams. "We had nine strikeouts and six of those were with men on base."

Sikeston got one more run for insurance in the bottom of the sixth as Landers came around to score on a single by Bizzell.

LaBruyere took the loss as he threw the complete game. He allowed seven hits, walked three and hit a batter.

He struck out eight and allowed four runs, but only two were earned.

"He struggled to find his curve ball early and that gave Sikeston a chance to see what was coming and be aggressive on it," said Williams.

"He wasn't quite as sharp as he has been, but he pitched well enough for us to win. Their right fielder made a great catch on a ball that was just scorched. They made some key defensive plays when they had to."

Hester was 2-3 with a run and an RBI.

Sikeston was led by Baker's three hits with a run. Bizzell, Limbaugh and Chappell each had singles. Landers reached base three times.

Sikeston continues to have great success against Cape Central as they've won 14 of the last 17 meetings with the Tigers.