Junior Babe Ruth team drops opening game in tournament
SIKESTON - The 14-year-old Midwest Plains Regional Babe Ruth Baseball Tournament got underway on Saturday at VFW Stadium.
Sikeston, serving as a host team, got an automatic bid but lost in its opener to Tonka, Minn., 6-3.
Sikeston falls to the loser's bracket where they played the loser of the Kansas-Iowa game on Sunday.
Results from that game will be in Tuesday's paper.
On Saturday, Sikeston committed six errors and had some base running blunders which contributed to the defeat. Sikeston stranded 11 base runners on the afternoon.
"We were all over the bases in the first couple of innings and just couldn't get enough runs in," said Sikeston head coach Phil Black. "We made some base running mistakes and towards the end we made some defensive mistakes."
Tonka, which made the 13-year-old Babe Ruth World Series a year ago, only managed five hits against Sikeston starter Andy Gantner and reliever Jerod Scott.
"I think they had more of a game than they thought they were going to have from a host team," said Black. "We really probably should've won the game, but we didn't get the right hits at the right time."
Tonka built an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first. A three-base throwing error led to one run and a run-scoring single by Matt Schmidt scored another.
Sikeston pulled to within one in the bottom of the first when Cody Black singled home Gantner.
Sikeston tied the game in the bottom of the second when Cody Cooper scored on an error by the Tonka shortstop. Sikeston still had the bases loaded with nobody out but couldn't plate any more runs.
Tonka grabbed a 3-2 lead in the top of the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Chris Hoeschen. The Minnesota squad broke the game open with three more runs with two outs in the sixth when an error kept the inning alive. It all happened on just one hit.
"They helped us out by kicking it around a bit but that's what happens in big games like this, you've got to just what for the breaks and make them," said Tonka head coach Sam Ashkar.
Tonka hurler Schmidt picked up the win, throwing six innings and allowing three runs (one earned) off six hits. He walked four and struck out three.
Eric Ness retired the side in order in the seventh to earn the save.
"I gotta say this that (Sikeston) came to play," said Ashkar. "We had a lot of 3-2 counts early which meant their hitters were really determined to come at us. You saw by the score early on, 2-2, it was a really tight game. We just had to stay focused and we didn't break the game open until we got those runs with two outs."
Tonka also had several standout defensive plays which kept Sikeston off the scoreboard, including a fantastic diving stab by shortstop Jason Ridge with runners on second and third in the sixth inning.
"Some days they fall and some days they don't," said Black.
Ashkar said his team is known for making plays in the field.
"That's typical of some plays we make," he said. "You'll find that good teams have to step up and make plays. I've been real proud of our team because we've made some plays and that's why we're winning."
Gantner took the loss for Sikeston, throwing 5 2/3 innings. All six runs he allowed were unearned. He gave up five hits and three walks while striking out one.
Scott threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings in relief.
"They're a good team," said Ashkar. "They put the ball in play and they were the ones making plays early. They made some good plays to get us out of our innings."
Black now knows his team belongs in the tournament, but will have to fight through the loser's bracket.
"(Minnesota) went to the World Series last year so theoretically they should've been the best team in the tournament," said Black. "And I think we gave them all they wanted. That's what's so disappointing because we know we could've done it."