CAPE GIRARDEAU -- The Sikeston tennis team dropped its first dual match of the season, falling to Cape Central 5-4 on Tuesday in Cape Girardeau.
Sikeston is now 5-1 on the season.
All varsity matches were the best two out of three sets, with the third set being a super tiebreaker.
"Cape has a good team -- they are a little better than us right now," Sikeston coach Brian James said. "They played some very tough competition over the weekend and I think that helped them in some of these close matches today. Even with the loss, I'm seeing some things we're doing better than earlier in the year. Playing good teams like Cape will help us prepare for district play. Hopefully, we can learn from it and be ready for them the next time we play them."
Here are the results from Tuesday's matches:
1. Sam Zhao def. David Berry, 6-4, 4-6, (10-4)
2. Clayton Matthews lost to Patrick Duffy, 3-6, 2-6
3. Logan Hampton lost to Robert Weir, 4-6, 2-6
4. Charlie Jones def. Brandon Gonzales, 6-3, 6-2
5. Justin Deere lost to Will LaFoe, 4-6, 2-6
6. Stuart Strom lost to Josh Hubbard, 0-6, 4-6
Zhao/Matthew def. Berry/Duffy, 2-6, 6-3, (10-3)
Hampton/Jones lost to Weir/Kies, 6-0, 0-6, (5-10)
Deere/Strom def. Gonzales/LaFoe, 6-4, 1-6, (11-9)
JV winners: Seth Colwick, Meyer Neel, Derek Hahn
SIKESTON -- On Monday, Sikeston resumed a postponed match with Poplar Bluff and then followed that up with a full scheduled match with the Mules. Sikeston won both, beating Poplar Bluff 9-0 in the resumed match and 8-1 in the regularly scheduled match.
"We re-scheduled to finish last Tuesday's match that got rained out halfway through, then play the regularly scheduled match immediately afterwards," James explained. "I was really proud of Logan Hampton and Charlie Jones. They played well together in doubles and both pulled out tough singles wins. I'm really counting on them for their production and they made some good strides. I thought Sam Zhao played a tremendous singles match against Bhatt, who was a state qualifier last year. He's a quality player and Sam was able to get a nice win against him."
Here are the results from Monday's matches:
1. Sam Zhao def. Malay Bhatt, 8-6
2. Clay Matthews def. Perry Salyer
3. Logan Hampton def. Chris Drury, 8-6
4. Charlie Jones def. Kelsey Brown, 8-1
5. Justin Deere def. Davis Wilson, 8-4
6. Stuart Strom def. Salik Choudhary, 8-3
Hampton/Jones def. Bhatt/Wilson, 8-2
Zhao/Deere def. Drury/Brown, 8-2
Strom/Seth Colwick def. Salyer/Chadhary, 8-2
Regular scheduled match
1. Clay Matthews lost to Bhatt, 5-8
2. Sam Zhao def. Salyer, 8-1
3. Charlie Jones def. Drury, 8-6
4. Hampton def. Brown, 8-0
5. Strom def. Wilson, 8-5 6. Deere def. Choudhary, 8-1
Matthews/Zhao def. Bhatt/Wilson, 8-5
Jones/Hampton def. Drury/Brown, 8-2
Strom/Deere def. Salyer/Choudhary, 8-5
Seth Colwick, Adam Martin, Ashton Cantrell, Blaze Schrieber, Andrew Wallace, Colwick/Martin in doubles, Cantrell/Landon Hampton in doubles, Schrieber/
Wallace in doubles.
POPLAR BLUFF -- Dexter's 3-2 road win against Poplar Bluff on Tuesday provided enough intriguing baseball material to write a dozen stories.
Both teams were battling their own demons coming into the game Ñ and both teams felt they like they were on the path toward exorcism at the end of the game. Both teams benefited from top-notch pitching performances and both teams managed to put together some clutch at-bats. Baserunners were walking a tightrope all game long and the two catchers in the game combined for more outs than the shortstops.
Sports Illustrated would have been proud.
"It was nice to give the home crowd something good to watch," said Poplar Bluff coach Stan Bullington, referencing a few double-digit losses the home team has suffered this spring.
Storyline No. 1: Bearcats bump the slump.
Coming into the game, the Dexter Bearcats were in the midst of a frustrating offensive slump. After getting shutout by Chaffee, 2-0, the previous week, the Bearcats went six innings against the Mules before posting their second run of the game.
"The last two games have been really frustrating," Dexter coach Brian Becker said. "The bats have just been cold. Inning after inning, we get opportunities, but we haven't been able to cash them in."
Fortunately for the Bearcats (8-2), they were finally able to cash in some runs when it counted most.
After stranding seven runners through the first six innings and having a number of rallies snuffed by mental mistakes on the basepaths, Thomas Espey led off the final frame by getting hit with a pitch. After Espey stole second base, Drew Pixley walked and they both advanced a base on a passed ball. Cole Smith then delivered Dexter's game-winning runs on 2-0 Cameron Pickard pitch that he lined up the middle to score both runs.
"It felt good off the bat," Smith said. "On a 2-0 count, I'm looking to hit."
Storyline No. 2: Home is where the hardship is.
The Mules have not fared well at home as both of their wins have come on the road. Last Thursday, the Mules lost to Green County Tech, Ark., 20-1. The week before that, the Mules lost 17-1 to Scott City.
But, facing a talented Dexter team, the Mules (2-10) did more than last a full seven innings - they kept the Bearcats on their heals for a full seven innings.
"With the way we've played, to me, this was an outstanding game," Bullington said. "We played hard for a whole seven innings. ... With such a young team, I know we'll have tough games. But if we continue competing like we did today, the wins will come."
The Mules turned two double plays in the game - a popped up bunt that catcher Caleb Conover threw to second to double up the runner and a beautiful back-handed stop by third baseman Logan Boles in which he touched third and fired to first. Center fielder Ben Knuckles made two running catches in the gap while second baseman Chris Marcum made an acrobatic catch in short right while nearly colliding with outfielder Donnie Magruder.
Magruder was also able to drive in both of the Mules' runs on ground balls up the middle - one on an RBI ground out and the other on an error.
"We did some things we've been working on," Bullington said. "And today we kinda put it together. This is the kind of effort I've expected all along."
Storyline No. 3: Gutsy pitching performances.
Dexter starter Tyler Moore struggled at times with his location. Moore started eight of the 27 batters he faced with a 2-0 count and walked six. But, with the help of two pickoffs by catcher Pixley at second base, Moore was able to battle through the adversity and maintain composure. Moore never faced more than six batters in an inning and went 1-2-3 in his final two.
"He's thrown the ball well all year for us," Becker said. "His problem today was that he was 2-0 before he even got to work. But, you have to give him credit. He did a good job of battling."
Pickard's performance was equally as gutsy for Poplar Bluff.
Because of a slow delivery from the stretch, every runner Dexter put on first base wound up on second with a steal as the Bearcats swiped eight bases against Pickard. But Pickard refused to be rattled.
After Smith stole second with one out in the first inning, Pickard struck out No. 3 hitter Logan Swindle and induced No. 4 hitter Josh Stevens into a 4-3 ground out. When Kyle Cox stole second after being issued a leadoff walk, Pickard popped up Caleb Miller and then got an inning-ending double play.
"Pickard pitched great," Bullington said. "We stretched him as far as he could go. But he was doing such a good job, we had to let him keep going."
Storyline No. 4: Rally ropers.
Both pitchers were able to use strikeouts to diffuse offensive threats.
With a runner on second and two outs, Pickard struck out Espey with a curveball in the dirt. With a runner on second in the fifth, Pickard snuffed the threat by ringing up Swindle looking at a 3-2 fastball on the outer corner.
Moore struck out Ben Knuckles with two on and two out in the second inning on a fastball and rang up two strikeouts in the fifth inning to keep the Mules from scoring in their third straight inning. Dexter closer Eric Windham then struck out two in the seventh to end the game.
Tanner Kent of the SEMO News Service contributed to this report.