The Bombers, who had no substitutes available on the bench, scored ten combined runs in the seventh and eighth innings to come away with the big win.
"We only had nine guys tonight," said Bombers head coach Matt Marshall, whose team improved to 5-8. "The guys knew they had to pull through. They started hitting well and it happened."
Railroaders skipper Andy Mennes felt his team brought much of the loss on themselves as they fell to 1-8.
"We just made bad mistakes," said Mennes. "We didn't pitch well and we lost. There were too many errors and bad plays for us to win."
The beginning of the game played right to the Bombers. After starting pitcher Brent Telano escaped the first inning with only a walk allowed, the Bombers plated two runs in the bottom of the inning when first baseman Sean Coker's sacrifice fly scored left fielder Jared Elmore from third, and catcher Scott DeLoach's groundout permitted former Sikeston Bulldog Jaimie Puckett to cross home.
Elmore shined throughout the game and was an integral part of his team's success on Monday. The Holmes Community College standout went 4-4 with a double, an RBI, three runs scored and an intentional walk.
"We've been working a lot on mechanics and swinging," said Marshall. "He's really started to grasp the ideas I've been teaching him. It's gratifying to see your players catch on to your ideas and use them in the game."
The game cruised along without another score until the top of the fifth. The Railroaders had been stifled by Bootheel's southpaw hurler until a walk by first basemen Sean O'Connor and a one-out single by pitcher Thomas Harrison set up a RBI double into left by shortstop Matt Bean. The next batter, catcher Max Rutherford, did more damage with a triple that sent Harrison and Bean to the plate. Left fielder Bryan Harvey gave Fulton one more with a two-
bagger into the gap in left that scored Rutherford.
"We had that one bad inning," said Marshall. "That's what's been plaguing us all year. We play well until one inning gets us down and we lose. But we overcame that one inning tonight."
The game remained 4-2 in favor of Fulton until the bottom of the seventh, when the Bombers took advantage of a leadoff fielding error to score Venezuelan shortstop Jose Lopez on Elmore's double. Matt Bucher, who had reached on a single after Lopez, slid into home on Puckett's surprise suicide squeeze, which also brought in Elmore when the first baseman overthrew the catcher at home. After Fulton brought in relief pitcher Jonathon Hernendez to bring closure to the inning, Puckett scored on DeLoach's grounder to make it 6-4 Bombers after six.
In the top of the eighth, there was controversy. With two outs and runners on the corners, Sean O'Connor, who was on first, lured Telano into a pick-off attempt. When Harvey, the runner on third, broke for home, Telano swiftly tossed it to his catcher for the tag. The throw brought DeLoach up the third base line and into the path of Harvey, to barreled into him on his way to the plate. When Harvey was called safe, the Bombers' players and coach Marshall argued that the slide was illegal and that the runner couldn't hit the catcher head-on. The umpires deliberated and decided that the collision was unintentional and since the catcher didn't have the ball when he moved into the runner's path, the slide rule protecting the catcher from getting hurt on such incidents was not in effect.
"It's a real tough call," said Marshall. "It was a bang-bang play. In the end it was a judgment call for the ump to make. Either way someone wasn't going to be happy."
The play turned out to be minor, however, when the Bombers broke out for six runs in the bottom of the frame to put their opponent away. With two outs and men on second and third, Fulton intentionally walked the streaking Elmore to load the bases. The move backfired when two successive walks to Puckett and Coker brought in outfielder Dan Robbins and Lopez to make the tally 8-5. The nail was driven when DeLoach ripped a huge triple into left that cleared the bases. The catcher's third, fourth and fifth RBIs, along with a wild pitch that sent him home made the contest 12-5, where it would finish after Robbins, who Bootheel brought in to pitch the last inning, retired all three batters he faced to secure the win for his team.
Fulton's coach was disappointed, but he saw potential for the future of his team.
"Something has to click," said Mennes. "We're a good team. When we stop making mistakes, we'll start to win more ball games."
Telano picked up the win for the Bombers, while Fulton's Harrison got the loss.
The Bootheel Bombers will host the Fulton at VFW Stadium again on Tuesday. Admission for the game will be two for the price of one.