The Bulldogs held on to defeat SEMO Conference foe Kelly 6-4 in the season-
opener for both teams on Wednesday afternoon at VFW Memorial Stadium.
While the Bulldogs booted a few balls in the field and weren't very sharp at the plate, it was the little, unnoticed things that Self was pleased with.
"It seems like every year that first game's always a struggle," said Self. "The one positive that I took was that we didn't miss any signs. I thought mentally we did a good job. We didn't do anything that I saw that told me we weren't ready. We had several physical mistakes today, but it's the first game. I know we'll get better at that."
Sikeston fell behind 2-0 in the top of the first inning, but the Bulldogs plugged away, plating one run in each of the first three innings to take the lead for good.
The Bulldogs picked up three key insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth to lead 6-2. Kelly put together a small rally in the top of the seventh but fell short.
"We're a young team and this is something we can really build off of," said Kelly coach Cory Johnson. "We can learn from what we did today and just continue to get better throughout this year. Just compete in every game, that's all we can ask."
Kelly jumped out to the quick lead when Bryce Faulkner doubled in Levi Felter. Dustin LeGrand then brought home Dallas Tew with a sacrifice fly.
Sikeston got on the board in the bottom of the first when Scott Droddy tripled and scored on a passed ball.
The Bulldogs cut the lead to 2-1 when Austin Williams singled home Matt Ritch, who was courtesy running for Dustin Barker, who singled earlier in the inning.
The Bulldogs took the lead on Nick Lambert's RBI-single, bringing in courtesy runner Stan Ivie.
Sikeston picked up three more runs in the sixth. Droddy's run-scoring double brought in pinch-runner Gerald Winfield. Josh Jackson also had an RBI-single that brought in Droddy. An error by the Kelly left fielder allowed Ivie to score from first.
Kelly cut the lead to 6-4 after back-to-back walks started the inning. Taylor James had a fielder's choice-RBI and Felter had a sac-fly RBI to bring in Chris Cooper and Zach Howard, respectively.
Droddy was the winning pitcher, throwing 4-plus innings, allowing two runs off two hits with three walks and one strikeout.
Jerod Scott threw the final three innings, allowing two runs off one hit with three strikeouts and three walks.
Both teams struggled at times in the field. Kelly had four errors while Sikeston had three.
But while the Bulldogs had a few errors, they also saved several runs with strong defensive plays. Left fielder Seth Baker threw out a runner at home plate in the first inning when catcher Dustin Barker blocked the plate and kept the runner from scoring.
Barker also threw out a runner at second on a sacrifice bunt after third baseman Cody Anderson barely missed on a diving attempt when the bunt sailed in the air.
Jackson snared a fading line drive in center field in the fifth with a runner in scoring position.
"We did some things defensively at times that were bright spots," said Self. "I thought Josh Jackson played pretty good in center field. He made a good catch on that line drive in the gap when it was a one-run game and it could've changed the whole game."
On the flip side, Kelly's four errors proved costly with two of them leading to runs.
"Against a team like Sikeston you can't give away anything -- we gave away a few runs there," Johnson said.
Tew was the losing pitcher for Kelly, allowing three runs off four hits in three innings pitched. He struck out three and walked none.
James Miller threw 2 2/3 innings of relief, allowing two runs off one hit with two walks.
Craig Ervin faced five batters in the sixth, walking three and allowing one hit and one run before getting the final out.
"I thought they threw excellent," said Johnson of his pitchers. "We had them on a 50 or 55 pitch-count today. I thought they did a heck of a job."
Sikeston's bats were somewhat quiet, collecting just six hits and failing to come through with runners in scoring position on numerous occasions.
"The thing that we didn't do was get big hits until the last inning," said Self. "Scott got the big double that gave us a cushion. We executed some bunts. I think our kids will come along and you'll see a huge difference as year progresses. I think as the temperature warms up and we get some games under out belt and get more swings, I think our hitters will groove some things out. We'll start to put it in play with a little more authority. If somebody's not hitting, we'll put somebody else in there. We're very deep and there will be a lot of guys get some opportunities to show what they can do."
Sikeston will play at Class 4 powerhouse DeSmet in St. Louis on Saturday at 11 a.m.
Kelly will host New Madrid County Central tomorrow at 4 p.m. in a SEMO Conference game.
Sikeston's J.V. team won its season-opener, defeating Kelly 6-3.
Charlie Bohannon was the winning pitcher, throwing five innings and allowing two runs off three hits with four walks while striking out nine.
Logan Kirkpatrick struck out one in one scoreless inning.
Dylan Tangen collected two hits with two RBIs for the Bulldogs. Vince Howard added a hit and Blair Bohannon had an RBI.
Sikeston 6, Kelly 4
WP - Scott Droddy, 1-0. LP - Dallas Tew, 0-1. 2B - Droddy (S), Faulkner (K). 3B -- Droddy (S). Multiple hits - Sikeston: Droddy 2-4. Records - Sikeston 1-0, Kelly 0-1.