With the game knotted at five in the bottom of the sixth, Post 114 scored the game-winning run to come out on top in a sloppy but hard-fought contest to move them to 16-7 on the season and 6-1 in district play.
"Any win is good," said Sikeston head coach Jeff Limbaugh. "It wasn't pretty, but we got it done."
The game started off shaky for both teams in the top of the first. Nick Lambert got the start on the mound for Sikeston, and he opened the game by plunking Dunklin County's leadoff batter, Dustin Crane. But when starting pitcher Shane Branum came up next and sent a base hit to the opposite field, Crane was thrown out trying to advance to third when he slid past the bag. Lambert was then able to get out of the inning unscathed by forcing a ground out and striking out the last hitter.
Sikeston got another break in the bottom of the first when, with two outs and Josh Jackson on first base, Lambert smacked a possibly fieldable ball to the right side of the infield that struck the umpire. Lambert was awarded an automatic hit, putting runners on first and second. Josh Jackson would later score when he stole third and then made it home after a throwing error by Dunklin County's catcher, making it 1-0 after one.
After a scoreless top of the second, Sikeston caught more breaks in the bottom of the inning. With two outs and Zack Secoy on first after a single, center fielder Josh Pierce hit a dribbler that the Dunklin County third baseman couldn't handle. A wild pitch then advanced Secoy to third. With men on first and third, Branum faked a pick-off throw to third and then tossed it to first to catch Pierce off guard. A hotbox ensued, and even though Pierce was eventually tagged out, Secoy crossed the plate to make it 2-0. They made it 3-0 after the third when Dylan Harris scored on a wild pitch.
In the top of the fourth, Dunklin Co. finally got on the board. They capitalized on two hit batsmen to score two runs on a hit by Crane and a wild pitch by Lambert, bringing the team within one.
Post 114 answered with two runs of their own in the bottom of fourth when Harris' sacrifice fly scored catcher Cody Anderson and Austin Williams' line drive single plated Pierce. A sacrifice bunt in the inning by Secoy and the sacrifice fly by Harris were essential in Sikeston's victory.
"We moved the runners around well with some sacrifice plays," said Limbaugh. "We'd been having trouble with that. We did it today."
Down 5-2 in the top of the fifth, Dunklin County was not ready to quit. With new Sikeston pitcher Silas Dill in the game, Dunklin County scored three runs in the frame on a hit by Sloan Richardson, a sacrifice fly by Scotty Bailey and a wild pitch by Dill. Down for most of the contest, Dunklin County quickly made it a new ball game.
"We have come back from so many games," said Dunklin County head coach Terry Luce. "If you give us a chance, we'll come back. Unfortunately it was just one inning today."
With the game still tied 5-5 in the bottom of the sixth, Sikeston would come through with just enough to put them over the top. Second baseman Kody Campbell drew the leadoff walk and was moved to second on Anderson's sacrifice bunt. The stage was set for the left-handed hitting Secoy, who ripped a big opposite-field double that got past Dunklin County's left fielder, easily scoring Campbell for the go-ahead run.
"Cody Anderson laid down a bunt, and Secoy came through with the double," Limbaugh said. "They executed when we needed it."
Sikeston's Paul Bucher pitched the final inning and struck out two on the way to the save, giving Dill the win and saddling Branum with the complete-game loss.
Despite coming up short, coach Luce was proud of what he saw from his team.
"I think the defense and the pitching is coming into step more than they have all season," said Luce. "Hitting was slacking, but it's still a positive. Hitting comes and goes, but defense and pitching must remain to win."
Limbaugh was just glad to get away with the victory.
"We hit six guys, walked three and made some errors," said Limbaugh. "You can't win many games like that. Luckily, we did today."
Dunklin County moved to 5-21 on the season and 1-7 in district play with the loss.
Leading hitters for Sikeston were Zack Secoy (2-2, double, RBI, run), Josh Jackson (1-2, run), Dylan Harris (1-3, RBI, run), Austin Williams (1-3, RBI) and Josh Pierce (1-2, run).
Leading hitters for Dunklin County were Shane Branum (2-3), Scotty Bailey (1
-2, RBI) and Sloan Richardson (1-3, double, 2 runs).
Results of the second game were unavailable at press time.