(Photo by Chris Pobst, Staff)
SIKESTON -- Josh Heitt's seventh inning single for Cape Central wasn't the hardest hit ball of the day. In fact, it was a slow bleeder just over the heads of both Blake Newman at short and Luke Keefer at second.
But it turned out to be the biggest hit of the day.
Heitt's fourth hit was the beginning of the end for the Sikeston Bulldogs as Cape Central scored four runs in the top half of the seventh to pull ahead of the home team for a 6-3 victory on Friday afternoon.
"That little bleeder off the bat," Sikeston head coach Kevin Self noted. "Had that ball been caught then the game's probably over because Jordan (Williams) probably finishes."
Leading 3-2 at the time, Sikeston starter Jordan Williams was lifted after Heitt's blooper hit the outfield giving way to recent shut-down closer Luke Keefer. Keefer inherited Heitt who later crossed the plate to tie the game on a single by Jamie Pickel to left field.
Next to Heitt's rally starter, Compas had the second biggest hit of the afternoon with a two-run double into right-centerfield to give the Tigers just what they needed to secure the win.
"I'm so proud of my kids for battling back in the last inning," Cape Central head coach Steve Williams said. "We always talk about if you're a good team then you always believe you have a chance to win. No matter if there's one strike left or what.
"It could have been real easy to quit but, we didn't."
The Tigers were the one's who broke the fast-paced, methodical first half of the game.
Each pitcher, Williams for Sikeston and Josh Meyer for Cape Central, spent very little time on the mound getting the three outs both were vying for. They combined for 10 first-pitch outs and 73 total pitches in the first four innings which lasted roughly 45 minutes.
The defense behind those pitchers was a lot to help with numerous double plays turned as well.
"Boy, it was fast-paced," Self said. "There were a lot of double plays, a lot of quick outs and a lot of low-pitch innings by both pitchers. Neither guy had to throw many pitches to get outs early on."
Cape Central's No. 8 hitter, Christian Cavaness, broke the streak with a solo home run in the fifth to right field which opened up the flood gates.
"When it's 0-0, usually what breaks that open is either a home run or somebody will get on and then somebody will make an error," said Self. "That's usually the difference in the ball game when it's real tight. Today, both things came about."
The Tigers scored two runs in the top of the fifth but the momentum was given to the Bulldogs at the end of the inning.
With the bases loaded, Cape Central (6-3) was poised to add more than the two they had already received. The first of two line drives was caught by Newman at shortstop and the second hard liner was right to Keefer at second base that set up a picture perfect 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.
"I'm thinking we got a chance right here," Williams said. "Probably two of the hardest hit balls we had all day, one was a line drive that should have been a double play and the other was a line drive that was a double play. We were kind of snake bit."
Sikeston used that turn up the middle to score their three runs of the day in the bottom of the fifth. Three consecutive singles by Kai Lambert, Trent McMillan and Keefer were all rewarded. Cody Rice hit a sacrifice fly to score Lambert, Tyler Anderson reached on an error that scored McMillan and Keefer was pushed across on a Jason Isaacs single up the middle.
"We got out of that unscathed," Self said about the previous half inning. "They had bases loaded and two runs already in and nobody out, and we get two line drives. We felt pretty good and it followed up our next at-bat. We had several guys hit it hard for the first time."
Cape Central, however, was not answered in the seventh inning. Compas came from behind the plate to hold down the Bulldogs in the final inning walking one and allowing another on base on a fielder's choice.
"It's tough to ask a kid to catch six innings and then come out and get you a couple outs," Williams said about Compas. "But, Josh is a tough kid. When it gets late in the game and our pitcher gets tired, Josh is the man we're going to and he knows it."
"He fought through it and figured out a way to get us those three outs."
With Compas earning the save, Meyer got the win for the Tigers. Meyer pitched six innings allowing one earned run on six hits and one walk. He struck out three on 68 total pitches.
"He really fought today," Williams said about Meyer. "He kept the ball down and he mixed his pitches well."
Williams finished with a no decision going 6 1/3 and allowing three earned runs on nine hits and two walks. He pitched a total of 80 pitches and struck out one. Keefer received the loss in 2/3 innings giving up two earned runs on three hits.
"I thought both pitchers threw strikes," said Self. "We didn't walk anybody, we made them hit it and for the most part we made plays. But, there were just a couple in a game like this when it's tight, that's what it comes down to."
Sikeston (6-3) will be back at it on Monday when they travel to Dexter at 4 p.m.
Cape Central 000 020 4 -- 6
Sikeston 000 030 0 -- 3
WP -- Josh Meyers. LP -- Luke Keefer. S -- Josh Compas. Multiple hitters -- Josh Heitt (C) 4-4, Jamie Pickel (C) 2-4, Josh Compas (C) 2-4, Kai Lambert (S) 2-3. 2B -- Compas 2. HR -- Christian Cavaness (C).