(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
DEXTER -- Dexter senior Cody Stause admitted his usually dynamic curveball was not up to par on Monday afternoon.
In fairness, two curveballs were sent right back towards Stause up the middle which accounted for two Sikeston hits. They only two Sikeston hits.
"My curveball didn't have it's good stuff today, "Stause said. "Seemed like my fastball was working most of the time."
Stause dominated the potent Bulldogs lineup striking out 14 batters and completing the seven inning shutout in a 3-0 win.
"Cody's a big-game pitcher," Dexter head coach Brian Becker said. "I knew whenever I put his name in the lineup and put a No. 1 by it that we had a good chance of winning. He went out on the mound and did his thing out there.
"I couldn't be more proud of him."
Stause struck out 10 of his first 16 batters he faced. His tenth victim ended the fourth inning. He gave up his only two hits of the game to Cody Rice in the third and Blake Newman in the fourth.
Nothing would come of those as both Rice and Newman were left stranded at first.
"We had a hard time catching up to the fastball," Sikeston head coach Kevin Self said. "(Stause) pretty much showed what he was. He's definitely the best we've seen so far."
The Bulldogs' best chances to score was in the top of the first when Tyler Anderson walked, stole second and was eventually moved over on a groundout. He was left standing on third when Stause rung up Nathan Rodgers with his mid-80's fastball.
"I knew that some of them were behind on my fastball," said Stause. "I just tried to locate it."
Sikeston again tried their best to put one across in the fifth and sixth innings. Williams was tagged out on a bang-bang play at third in the fifth inning while a 1-4-3 double play ended the Bulldogs' scoring opportunity in the sixth.
Sikeston could not produce a hit when they needed it the most.
"It's hard to win when you can't put it in play," said Self. "We had some opportunities. We battled and walked and got some guys on but, we just never could get a big hit."
Sikeston starter Trent McMillan may not have had the strikeouts his counterpart Stause totaled but the Bulldogs hurler was just as effective in the first four innings. McMillan gave up a single in the bottom of the first but was untouched in the next three innings.
The pitching duel that was the first four innings finally came to an end in the fifth inning. On the first pitch of his at-bat, Bryn Hester sent a base hit into centerfield that scored Josh Overall from second base. The relay throw from Jordan Williams in center was a perfect strike to find the infield, but the throw to the plate sailed over catcher Jason Isaacs as Dexter scored the eventual winning run.
"We got a big hit by Bryn Hester to kind of break the ice," Becker said. "We tacked on a couple after that -- that's how you win ballgames. We took advantage of their mistakes."
Hester came around to score later in the inning after an error at second base allowed a ground ball to scoot into right field off the bat of Ben Mills.
"He threw well enough to win," Self said about McMillan. "We make a couple of pitch and catch plays -- the relay back to the plate -- we had him. Jordan made a great throw from center, the ball was there and we just couldn't play pitch and catch.
"That's just part of the game. Who've got to be able to make plays when the pressure is on and today we didn't make them."
Stause ended the game fittingly with a strikeout against Rice. He threw a total of 135 pitches, 79 for strikes and 56 for balls, and also walked six.
"I came out feeling good in the beginning," Stause said. "I finally got a little shaky in the middle and finished strong."
Alex Cliff was the only multiple hitter in the game with two singles. Hester and Sawyer Smith drove in a run apiece while Stause added a hit as well.
"That was a big win for us," Becker said. "It doesn't matter if you play Sikeston in badminton, tiddlywinks or baseball -- beating them in anything is a good win for you.
"They always come out here with a quality club and this year is no different."
Dexter (6-4) is scheduled to host the Charleston Bluejays today at 4 p.m. while the Bulldogs (6-4) are off until Wednesday when they travel to Kennett.
"We're getting better," said Self. "There's no doubt about that. It's just tough to continue to take losses even as your getting better, but, who've got to. Dexter was better than us today."
Sikeston 000 000 0 -- 0
Dexter 000 021 x -- 3
WP -- Cody Stause. LP -- Trent McMillan. Multiple hitters -- Alex Cliff (D) 2-3.