(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
BENTON -- In just their first two games of the season, the Sikeston Bulldogs have combined for 20 hits and 18 runs as a team. That's something that designated hitter Nathan Rodgers and the rest of the Bulldogs know will take them a long way.
"Coach Self has put together a real nice lineup," Rodgers said. "We got contact sticks, power sticks and what we want to do is keep the ball between the lines. We want to make the fielders field the ball, put the ball in play and make them work. As you can see we scored runs."
Rodgers led the Bulldogs with a 3-hit performance on Wednesday afternoon in their 13-0 win over the Kelly Hawks at Kelly High School.
"It's coming in nice," Rodgers said about his early hitting streak. "No one's thrown hard enough to blow it by us but, you just have to put the bat on the ball. Make them field the ball. That's key."
The Bulldogs were lifted by four frames of scoreless pitching by starter Trent McMillan. McMillan threw four of the five innings and allowed three hits and five walks. He also struck out five batters on a total of 81 pitches for the day.
Although he had his share of control issues at times, McMillan found a way to either coax the third out he needed to end the Hawk's threat.
"Trent struggled a little bit on the mound with his control," Sikeston head coach Kevin Self said. "He has a tendency to do that but, for the most part, I thought he did fine. I thought he threw the ball okay."
Sikeston's starter stranded six Kelly runners in scoring position including three left standing on third base.
"That's what we need," said Rodgers. "We need pitchers that can get up there and throw strikes. He got in a little trouble with the bases loaded a couple of times, but the defense helped us out. That's great to have good pitchers."
Rodgers, who has five hits including two doubles already this season, drove in the game's first run with a rope through the middle of the infield that scored courtesy runner Luke Keefer from second base. Keefer was running for catcher Jason Isaacs who singled earlier in the inning.
The Bulldogs, who had 11 hits on the day, posted three runs in the first inning all with two outs against Kelly starter Ian Householder. Householder threw 35 pitches in the first inning.
"The first inning we went two up, two down but, I feel like we won't give up with two outs," Self said. "Some teams kind of mail it in after that. I felt like we didn't and we got opportunities."
An inning later, Sikeston put up three more runs against Householder, who was tagged for 11 runs, seven earned, on 10 hits and four walks. Blake Newman hit a two RBI double into right-centerfield plating Tyler Anderson and Keefer. Rodgers added the Bulldog's sixth run of the day with a sacrifice fly to left field.
After their only scoreless frame, Sikeston poured on five runs in the fourth inning on four hits. McMillan drove in two with a single up the middle while Drew Harper, Anderson and Isaacs added one RBI as well.
"When we had opportunities we drove them in for the most part," Self said. "We did some things at the plate with runners in scoring position that you've got to do. We got to score those runs."
Feeling the jitters that comes along with opening day, the Hawks mustered three hits which were all singles. Dustin Crowden, Sawyer Elfrink and Shawn Heuring gave Kelly their three hits at the dish.
"They even told me after the game they had jitters," Wills said. "When we're playing as many young kids as we are I knew it was going to be like that and it's going to be like that early. Right now, we just need time on the field.
"The good news is, this is game one and it's not happening in game 16."
Isaacs added two hits, both singles, and one RBI for Sikeston while five other players added one hit for the Bulldogs.
"For the most I was proud of the way we played," said Self. "I was proud of the way we bounced back and it felt like we brought the same intensity that we did yesterday and that's what I was stressing. No matter who your playing, play Sikeston baseball. That's important."
Sikeston 330 52 -- 13
Kelly 000 00 -- 0
WP -- Trent McMillan (S). LP -- Ian Householder (K). Multiple hitters: SIKESTON -- Jason Isaacs 2, Nathan Rodgers 3. KELLY -- none. 2B -- Blake Newman (S), Rodgers (S).