The Bulldogs and Indians engaged in a nearly three-hour game, but it was Jackson that had more gas in the tank at the end as they held off a Sikeston rally in the bottom of the ninth to win its first-ever conference tournament championship, 8-6.
Despite the game getting started an hour late, the game cruised along smoothly as the teams remained deadlocked in a 2-2 tie well past the regulation seven innings.
Jackson seemingly blew the game open with a six-run ninth inning to lead 8-2.
But Sikeston went down swinging, literally, as the Bulldogs pieced together a four-run rally off five hits. The Bulldog rally was thwarted with the tying run on first base as Jackson's Logan Lawson struck out Tyler Dame to end the contest shortly before midnight.
"This may be the most proud I've ever been in a loss," Sikeston coach Kevin Self said. "What I'm most proud of is we didn't quit. We got down 8-2 and we turned it into a game in that last inning. We had more hits in that last inning than we had the whole rest of the game. I'm proud of the way they handled themselves even though we didn't make some plays there at the end. We got up off the mat and we still had to make them earn it."
The Bulldogs have reached the SEMO Conference Tournament championship game every year since the tourney's inception in 2001. Sikeston won three straight titles from 2002-04, but have now dropped the last three title games.
It was just the second championship game appearance for Jackson, which lost to Sikeston in the 2002 title game 17-0.
"We keep making it to the championship," Self said. "I'd much rather get here and lose it as opposed to not getting here at all. The people are here, the crowd's here -- this is what you want to play for. This is the kind of pressure you want to play under because that's what it's going to take to win your district. When it's district time, we'll be ready to play under these conditions. That's why I like this tournament."
Although the final score didn't show it, the game was a pitcher's duel for eight innings.
Sikeston's Joey Williams was the hard-luck loser as he threw eight-plus innings. Heading into the ninth he had held the Indians to two runs off six hits.
But with his pitch-count soaring, Jackson started to find the mark as Blake Reiminger laced a one-out single into right field. He stole second to put himself in scoring position. Caleb Guilliams then gave the Indians the lead with a double to left centerfield to chase Williams from the mound.
Williams threw 8 1/3 innings, allowing four runs (three earned) off eight hits with five strikeouts and one walk.
"I thought Joey (Williams) threw probably his best game of the year," Self said. "I'm telling you he threw lights out. It was a big-game situation and he held that bunch to two runs for eight innings."
Self brought in Jerod Scott for relief but the Bulldog defense -- which had been sharp throughout the game -- collapsed, committing three errors. Jackson took full advantage on the bases, stealing four bases in the inning, including a steal of home by Rex Meyr. The Indians stole seven bases in the game.
"We haven't been able to get over the hill (in this tournament), but they really came out tonight and they were really focused in," said Jackson coach Rex Crosnoe. "They had a lot of confidence thinking, 'hey, we can play with Sikeston.'"
Sikeston didn't go quietly in the bottom of the ninth as Austin Williams led off with a single. The Bulldogs followed up with four straight hits to bring in three runs, cutting the lead to 8-5. After a walk to Dustin Barker to load the bases, Jerod Scott hit into a fielder's choice, but Josh Jackson scored on the play to cut the lead to 8-6.
With runners on first and third, Lawson was able to get Dame swinging to end the game.
"That's a tribute to Sikeston -- they've got a solid ballclub and they've got some good hitters," said Crosnoe. "Logan was wearing down and he was down to his last hitter. We just rode him. It got a little scary with the tying run on first."
Lawson, who was the winner in all three of Jackson's tournament games, threw five innings of relief. He struck out seven and walked one. He allowed four runs off six hits.
"I don't know if it is a record, but I'm sure it's tying a record," said Crosnoe of Lawson three wins. "He was really big for us in this tournament."
Jackson's Caleb Hosey started and threw four innings, allowing two runs off three hits with three strikeouts and three walks.
"He did a great job starting out," Crosnoe said of Hosey. "We couldn't ask anymore out of him -- he did a fantastic job."
Jackson (14-7) jumped out to a 2-0 lead, scoring a run in each of the second and third innings.
Sikeston (14-6) tied the game on Nick Lambert's two-run double in the bottom of the third that caromed off the wall in left centerfield 380-feet away.
Neither team scored again until the ninth inning.
Sikeston was led by Scott Droddy's three hits, including two doubles. Jackson and Lambert each went 2-5. Lambert had three RBIs.
Jackson was led by Meyr's 3-4 day at the plate. Reiminger went 2-5.
Sikeston will host Kennett in a makeup game on Wednesday at 4 p.m.
Jackson 8, Sikeston 6 (9 innings)
WP - Logan Lawson. LP - Joey Williams. 2B - Jackson: Caleb Guilliams. Sikeston: Scott Droddy 2, Josh Jackson, Nick Lambert. Multiple hitters - Jackson: Rex Meyr 3-4, Blake Reiminger 2-5. Sikeston: Droddy 3-5, Jackson 2-5, Lambert 2-5. Records - Jackson 14-7. Sikeston 14-6.