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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Bulls win opener

Sunday, June 4, 2006

(Photo)
Farmington third baseman Michael Hall prepares to tag out Sikeston's Jared Elmore.
SIKESTON - The Sikeston Bulls got off to a great start in Kitty League action with a 1-0 shutout over the visiting Farmington Firebirds in the first game of a doubleheader on Friday at VFW Memorial Stadium.

Results from the second game of the doubleheader were not available at press time.

Solid pitching and defense was a winning combination for the Bulls in the season opener. The Bulls made no errors in the contest and starting pitcher Justin Rodgers pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings for the win.

Rodgers, a freshman from Southeastern Illinois College, was one out from a complete game shutout, gave up only four hits, walked none and struck out six Firebirds.

"This is the first time I have seen him pitch and he was simply outstanding today," said Bulls manager Matt Marshall. "He went out there and dealt it up."

(Photo)
Sikesotn's Will Moore slides safely into home.
Firebird manager David Cramp also had high praise for Rodgers.

"You have to tip your hat to the kid (Rodgers), he went out and pitched a masterful game," said Cramp. "Our guy pitched well too and matched up well. It was just a wonderful game to watch. I know some of those people in the stands want to watch a 12-10 game. Those type games drive managers crazy. The kid (Rodgers) just pitched his heart out and did a great job. Sometimes a kid just gets in a groove and beats you. That is what happened today."

Rodgers was also pleased with the performance for the Bulls in the Kitty League opener.

"I just tried to hit my spots and work down in the strike zone," said Rodgers. "I got a lot of ground balls and my defense made all the plays. My change up was working real well today and that is my go-to pitch."

The contest between the Bulls and the Firebirds was a pitching and defensive jewel by both squads. Rodgers' performance on the mound was matched by Farmington's starter Mike Hardin.

(Photo)
Sikeston Bulls shortstop Tyler Martin makees a running catch.
Hardin went the entire way for the Firebirds and gave up only four hits, one earned run, walked two and struck out four.

On the defensive side, Farmington turned two double plays and also did not commit an error in the contest.

Scoreless through five-plus innings, Sikeston used aggressive base running to breakthrough in the bottom of the sixth.

Wil Moore led off the inning for the Bulls with a single. Catcher Nico Gregali followed with a single and Moore moved over to third base on the hit.

Leadoff batter Nate Bloom hit a slow roller towards third base for Sikeston. Moore got a great jump off third and beat the throw to home to give the Bulls the go-ahead score.

"I am pleased with our team's effort tonight," said Marshall. "We hung in tough and played well. We were aggressive tonight and it is a good way to get off on the right foot. I like to be aggressive and get the guys in motion on the bases. Especially with the wood bat, a team has to be aggressive and execute. We executed a little more than they did and that was the difference in the ball game."

With the 1-0 lead, Rodgers trotted out to the mound for the Bulls looking to complete his masterful game in the top of the seventh. However, it got rocky for Rodgers and the Bulls.

Ryan Becker led off the inning for the Firebirds with a sharp single to left. Pinch runner Justin Holmes for Farmington stole second and the Firebirds had a man on second base with no outs.

Rodgers battled and got the next two Farmington hitters to fly out.

Down to his last out, Rodgers picked a wrong time to get a little wild on the mound for the Bulls. An out away from the victory, Rodgers hit Tyler Stahl and Lucas Hulsey to load the bases for Farmington.

Running out of gas, Marshall made the move to the bullpen for closer Dan Robbins.

Robbins struckout Luke Garber to get the save for the Bulls.

"I wanted to finish the game," said Rodgers, "but I was running out of gas. I tried to work through it, but I just couldn't finish it. That is why we have a closer, to come in and close it out."

Marshall stated that he had no problem bringing in Robbins.

"Dan is my closer, that is what he does," said Marshall. "He (Robbins) is here to finish games. Dan is one of our few returnees from last year and I also coach him at Lambuth University. I am well aware of what he is capable of and he knows his role."

Gregali led the offensive attack for the Bulls with two hits. Moore and Jared Elmore each had a hit apiece for Sikeston.

Marshall explained that this year's version of the Bulls have a ton of depth at his disposal.

"All these guys, except for three, are brand new to the team," said Marshall. "I am learning about them as we play. The kids only got here a couple of days before the game. I am very fortunate to have a deep team and there is no drop off at any position. It is a tough decision on who to play on a particular night, but is one you would love to have."

Despite the loss, Cramp enjoyed the type of baseball played by the Bulls and Firebirds.

"Today people just saw a gem of a game," said Cramp. "Pure baseball people who really love the game, just love a 1-0 game. This is typical of the type of ball you will see throughout the whole league every night."

Sikeston 1, Farmington 0

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WP - Justin Rodgers

LP - Mike Hardin

S - Dan Robbins

2B - Michael Hall (F)

Multiple hitters - Sikeston: Rico Gregali 2-2.

LOB - Sikeston 1, Farmington 6.

Records - Sikeston 1-0, Farmington 0-1.