(Photo by Chris Pobst, Staff)
JACKSON -- Their bats never have them out of games. Even when they were down 6-0 after three innings to the Jackson Indians, the Sikeston Bulldogs did what they do best and hit themselves back into a close game.
However, it wasn't enough to overcome the Indians and a bases clearing triple by Tyler Qualls on Thursday afternoon as the visiting Bulldogs fell 12-7 at the new Whitey Herzog Stadium in Jackson.
"Any time you play Sikeston, they're always prepared," first-year Jackson head coach Tatum Kitchen said. "They're never out of games. Their kids play until the last out.
"I feel fortunate we won."
The Indians (6-4) took their commanding six-run lead in the bottom of the third inning. Leading 2-0 at the time, Jackson scored four runs on four hits including a triple from Clay Baker, who went 2-for-4 on the day.
"When we got down 6-0 we could have mailed it in and been done with it," Sikeston head coach Kevin Self said. "But, we didn't do that. That's not our philosophy. Any time we play, we feel like we have a chance to win."
The Bulldogs followed suit with three runs in the fourth inning after being shut down by Jackson starter Logan Bartels in the first three. Until the fourth inning, Bartels' only hiccup was a double to deep left field off the bat of Tyler Anderson, who has been hitting virtually everything from the beginning of the season.
Sikeston (7-5) finally got to Bartels when Nathan Rodgers started a two-out rally by nearly hitting the pitcher with a rope back up the middle for a single. Ross Bohannon kept things going with a triple to deep right-center that scored Rodgers all the way from first. Jordan Williams connected for a double to left-center that scored Bohannon and Evan Underwood drove in the third run of the game with a single to right.
Four consecutive hits by the five, six, seven and eight players in the lineup put Sikeston on the board in a big way.
"Four hits and we had three runs," Self said. "It was a nice lift but, we just couldn't hold them."
As the top of the sixth concluded, the Bulldogs found themselves down by just one run, 8-7, after scoring two in the fifth and two more in the sixth. But then, the Indians did a bit of rallying themselves.
The inning began with Jackson's Dylan Koehler getting hit by a pitch from Bohannon, who had just entered the game. A single by Matt Crader and another hit batter loaded the bases for Jackson's most lethal hitter.
Qualls sent a blistering line drive to the base of the right field fence that landed him at third. He was allowed to score after the relay throw sailed into Jackson's dugout giving the Indians the 12-7 score.
"Fortunately, we had the right guy up at the right time," Kitchen said about Qualls.
"He's a good hitter, there' no doubt about that," added Self about Qualls. "We had no place to put him. He's the best hitter, probably, in our conference. We were trying to stay away from him when we could."
Kai Lambert started the game for the Bulldogs earning the loss in 2 2/3 innings. He gave up six runs, four earned, on five hits, two walks and one hit batsman. Trent McMillan held the Indians the best in 2 1/3 innings giving up two runs, one earned on one hits and four walks. Bohannon finished it out in one inning giving up four runs, three earned on three hits, one walk and two hit batsman.
"If you can't throw strikes and you give them eight or 10 extra base runners you ought to get your butt beat and we did," said Self. "We just couldn't quite get pitches or make the plays when we really needed them."
Bartels threw 5 2/3 innings giving up all seven runs. Sikeston tagged him for eight hits as Bartels threw 108 total pitches. Clay Baker threw the last 1 1/3 innings.
"Our pitchers, for the most part threw strikes and we made the plays when we had to," Kitchen said. "That was the big thing for us.
"We needed this one after two tough losses in a row."
Sikeston gets back on the field Tuesday when they host the Charleston Bluejays.
Sikeston 000 322 0 -- 7
Jackson 024 114 x -- 12
WP -- Logan Bartels. LP -- Kai Lambert. Multiple hitters -- Jordan Williams (S) 2-3, Matt Crader (J) 2-3, Clay Baker (J) 2-3, Bobby Clark (J) 2-4. 2B -- Tyler Anderson (S), Williams (S), Baker (J), Clark (J). 3B -- Ross Bohannon (S), Tyler Qualls (J), Baker (J).