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Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016

Bulldogs slam NMCC

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Cullen DeHart (21) is congratulated by teammates following first-inning grand slam.
SIKESTON - After nipping the New Madrid County Central Eagles in the SEMO Conference Tournament two weeks ago by a mere 1-0 score, the Sikeston Bulldogs wanted to leave little doubt that there would be another nail-biter on Wednesday at VFW Stadium.

The Bulldogs jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning and cruised to a 12-2, five inning win against the Eagles.

Sikeston, which has five straight 20-win seasons, also made it through its second straight undefeated run in the SEMO Conference with a 9-0 mark.

But more importantly, Sikeston got the convincing win they needed heading into Saturday's Class 3, District 1 game against this same NMCC team.

"It helps to score early like that, especially against that bunch," said Sikeston head coach Kevin Self. "The longer they stay in the game with us the more confidence they gain. It was important for us to make sure that we came out and scored early because the last time we didn't and it went down to the wire."

Sikeston (21-1) got the early lead on a Cullen DeHart grand slam over the right field fence in the bottom of the first inning to get a 5-0 lead.

The Bulldogs tacked on another run in the third inning on a Richard Landers RBI-single.

Landers also had a two-run triple in the fourth inning. It was the big performances Self had been waiting for out of his two juniors.

"I've been waiting for Cullen to hit one because he's hit a lot in practice," said Self. "He finally got a breaking ball he could handle and he got the big part of the bat on it and hit it out. If we can get him hot and Richard hot I feel a lot better about our lineup."

NMCC scored its first run in the top of the fourth when Ben Pyles hit a solo home run over the left field fence off Bryce Wibbenmeyer to cut the lead to 6-1.

But Sikeston responded with four more runs in the bottom of the fourth to blow the game open.

Jacob Priday had a run-scoring double along with Landers' triple to help the cause.

"Those guys hit the ball anywhere they want to and when they want to," said NMCC head coach John Jones. "It's like a machine. If I had my druthers, I wish we could've played someone else besides Sikeston because we've got to turn right around and see them again Saturday. But that was prescheduled and if we had done better this season we wouldn't be facing them right off the bat."

NMCC (7-10) scored again in the top of the fifth when they loaded the bases with no outs off reliever Blake DeWitt.

The Eagles could only muster one run in the inning, that coming off a double play by Pyles to bring home Jacob May to make it 10-2.

The Bulldogs ended the game by the 10-run rule in the bottom of the fifth. Lance Rhodes tripled in Scotty Keenan. A DeWitt sacrifice fly brought home Rhodes with the final run.

Wibbenmeyer was the winning pitcher, allowing one run off four hits in four innings. He struck out two and walked none.

"You get down to a point where you try to fight back and we get the bases loaded and then we hit into a double play," said Jones. "Their pitching had a lot to do with it. But we came over here flat as pancakes. You couldn't tell we were playing the number one team in the state. We just came over here and went through the motions."

Sikeston was led by Rhodes, who went 3-4 with a double and a triple. Priday added two hits and three runs. Landers had two hits and three RBIs.

Pyles was the losing pitcher in 3.2 innings of work. He struck out two and walked four.

Sikeston will play its final regular season game today at 4 p.m. when they host Jackson. The Bulldogs will play NMCC at noon on Saturday in the opening round of district play at Dexter's East City Park.

"That's two years in a row we've been undefeated in our conference," said Self. "With the teams in our conference, that's a big accomplishment. That was one of our goals and now we can move on to the next goal, which is obviously districts. I think our kids will be focused and ready considering the way things turned out for us last year. I think we'll be ready to go."