(photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON - The Sikeston Junior Legion Auxiliary Unit 114 baseball team picked up a big district victory on Monday with a 5-2 win against Jackson Post 158 at VFW Stadium.
Sikeston (20-10, 6-2) led from the outset, taking a 3-0 lead after two innings and never looking back.
The win marked Unit 114's 20th of the season and their seventh straight victory.
Pitcher Cullen DeHart pitched a solid game, going five innings and allowing just one run off three hits and three walks.
Chris Nance picked up the save in two innings of work.
"We got some good pitching," said Sikeston head coach Jeff Limbaugh. "Cullen went out and did what he had to do in the hot sun. This was our seventh game in four days so our pitching is being tested. We had a big pickup off the bench with Chris. He came in and threw two good innings. Our pitching's been there all season long."
The two pitchers combined to hold Jackson to three hits total. They got help from their defense, most notably a spectacular diving catch in right field by Ben Pyles.
"We hit the ball hard against DeHart, we just couldn't find holes," said Jackson head coach Josh Adams. "We had long flyballs and we just couldn't keep on top of the ball. DeHart threw a good ballgame, we hit the ball hard, but we couldn't find the grass. That was our biggest problem today."
After a throwing error by pitcher Tony Longman allowed Pyles to go to third, DeHart singled him home to lead 2-0.
"Ben got us going and got a big two-out hit to put us on the board," said Limbaugh. "When we had our chances early we scored our runs."
Sikeston scored another run in the bottom of the second when Matt Limbaugh doubled and scored on a Miller single to make it 3-0.
Jackson (13-12, 4-2) pushed a run across in the top of the fourth inning when McMinn scored on a passed ball to make it 3-1.
Sikeston extended the lead to 5-1 when the left-handed DeHart connected on an 0-2 pitch with a towering homer over the right field fence.
"That's a big thing there," said Adams. "When we lost focus they would make us pay. We had an 0-2 pitch on DeHart and he hit a pretty good shot to right field. We've got to think more about the situations, especially with a good hitter up there. Tony threw well enough to win. But our hitting has been hard to come by."
Longman took the loss in going the distance. He allowed five runs (four earned) off eight hits. He struck out two and walked one.
It was the second time in two weeks against Sikeston that Longman pitched well but came away without a victory.
The right-hander allowed just two runs off eight hits in the Cape Junior Legion Tournament against Unit 114. Sikeston won that game 4-2 in 10 innings as Longman took the no-decision.
"We knew he was going to be tough and it was going to be a low-scoring affair with Longman pitching," said Limbaugh. "So it was big to get the early lead."
DeHart went 2-3 with three RBIs. Pyles was 2-3 with an RBI and two runs scored. Miller also collected two hits while scoring a run and collecting an RBI.
Sikeston will host Cape Junior Legion on Friday at 6 p.m. at VFW Stadium in another big district matchup.