Fifth-seeded Sikeston (15-9) plays No. 3 Chaffee today at 5 p.m.
Sikeston fell behind 7-2 after five innings but rallied in the late stages to make things interesting. Post 114 had the tying run on second and the winning run on third but weren't able to push the runs across.
"We dug ourselves a little bit of a hole early," said Sikeston head coach Charlie Dye. "Give the kids credit, they fought back and made a game out of it. We had our chances. It's probably the one game where we didn't execute as well offensively as what we had in the past. But these are good pitchers. When you get your opportunities off them you've got to take advantage of it and we didn't."
Cape (23-14) hurler John Thies got the win despite allowing 14 hits in eight-plus innings. The lefty kept Sikeston off the scoreboard enough with timely strikeouts and good control.
He struck out eight and walked only one.
Wayne Essner entered the game in the ninth to record the save.
"We were fortunate to win -- Sikeston played a good game," said Cape head coach Tom Reinagel. "I give them a lot of respect, they came to play. We got them down early but they really battled back. They had us on the ropes at the end. The main thing is to win the first game and advance."
Thies was matched by Sikeston pitcher Ben Stricklin, who threw the complete game in taking the loss. He allowed eight hits with seven runs (five earned). He struck out four and walked three.
"Even though the score doesn't indicate it, you have to give Ben Stricklin just a tremendous amount of credit," said Dye. "After the first two innings he settled down and he kept them right there. They hit him pretty hard in the first two innings but after that he gave us a chance to come back and win a ballgame. From a coaching standpoint that's all you can ask."
After the first two innings, in which he allowed five runs off six hits and three walks, Stricklin held the Cape offense to just two unearned runs and just two hits with no walks.
"Once he found his control he settled down and did what he had to do," said Dye.
Sikeston led 1-0 in the top of the first when Matt Smith singled home Drew Lawrence.
Cape responded with three runs in the bottom of the first highlighted by a two-run triple by Matt Wulfers.
Ford & Sons scored two more runs in the bottom of the second on a two-run double by Tyler Schlosser to take a 5-1 lead.
Sikeston cut the lead to 5-2 on a run-scoring single by Nathan Eaves in the top of the fifth.
But once again Ford & Sons answered. A costly error by Sikeston kept the inning alive, leading to a two-run double by Josh Ford.
That was all Cape would get as Stricklin retired the final 10 batters in order.
Sikeston scored three runs in the top of the seventh to cut the lead to 7-5. Smith had another RBI-single and Scotty Keenan drove in two runs with a single to centerfield.
In the top of the ninth, Sikeston put runners on first and second with nobody out. Essner, who was brought in to relieve Thies, promptly struck out the next two batters. Richard Landers plated one run with a single up the middle to cut the lead to 7-6, but Essner retired the final batter to close the game.
"The kids didn't quit," said Dye. "They could've laid it down but they didn't. All you ask for is to get the tying runs on and we did that. The kids kept battling -- we came up just a little short tonight."