A throw from Notre Dame left fielder Trenton St. Cin sucked the air out of the Sikeston Bulldogs in a matter of seconds on Tuesday afternoon as he gunned down a would-be run at the plate in the form of Sikeston's Jordan Williams.
And it didn't take long for St. Cin and the Blue Bulldogs to capitalize on Sikeston's misfortunes as the Notre Dame senior, again, helped set the tone for a 9-0 Notre Dame win.
"The turning point of the game for us was when their left fielder made a wail of a throw and threw out Jordan at the plate," Sikeston head coach Kevin Self said. "We don't get that run and they come up and get three runs in the next inning."
A potential RBI single from Ross Bohannon in the bottom of the second inning set the turning of the tide in motion. Williams began his gallop from second base and made the turn towards home as St. Cin began scooping up what was left of Bohannon's hit.
St. Cin's throw took two bounces and then was in the hands of catcher Mark Hagadorn who had already set his position in front of the plate completely blocking any route that Williams had.
Williams' slide was stopped on a dime by the wall that was Hagadorn ending the second inning and the only rally Sikeston managed to put up.
"That's all seniors on defense," said Graviett. "It was a senior outfielder throwing to a senior catcher. It was a great block at the plate.
"Those are huge turning points. That would have put them on the board early on so, it was a big momentum swing."
St. Cin answered his own defensive play with a possibly bigger offensive one. He blasted an opposite field 2-run home run over the right field fence to give Notre Dame a 3-0 lead in the top of the third inning.
From that point one it was all Notre Dame. Sikeston (11-6) did not help their own cause following Notre Dame's first three runs, however, by committing five errors in the field in the next 2 1/3 innings.
Notre Dame (14-1) crossed the plate five more times in the fifth inning and once more in the sixth when Jeremy Essner went deep to right field for Notre Dame's second home run of the day.
"You give up five extra base runners and you don't make plays that you ought to make, you deserve to get beat," Self said. "When your playing against that quality of a team, you can't give them extra outs. Today, we did."
Before St. Cin's outfield assist and blast to right field, Sikeston freshman Tyler Anderson limited what could have been a much bigger deficit in the first two innings.
Colton Young led off the game with a double to the deepest part of right-center field. Young eventually advanced to third on a wild pitch with just one out in the first inning. Anderson struck out No. 3 hitter Jake Pewitt and then coaxed a ground ball from St. Cin to end the inning. He abandoned a runner on second in the second inning with a ground ball to first and a strike out to end the frame as well.
"I thought he did a tremendous job of limiting our opportunities," Graviett said of Anderson. "We had to fight and scratch for every one of them. He got some key strike outs against seniors hitters that are going to play college baseball.
"It ended up being 9-0 but it was definitely closer that what the score indicated."
Notre Dame's Tanner Hiett completed the seven inning shut out allowing four hits and one walk on 82 pitches. He also had three strike outs.
"He's been tremendously effective for us all year long," Graviett said. "We try to throw him in big games whenever we can and he's responded every time.
"To put a shutout on a team like Sikeston just speaks volumes for him."
Williams led Sikeston with a 2-for-3 performance at the dish. Bohannon and Blake Newman added one hit apiece to make up the total of four Sikeston hits.
"We hit the ball hard at times," said Self. "We didn't get any extra base runners and they didn't make any mistakes and that's the difference."
Jeremy Essner led Notre Dame with two singles and the solo home run in the sixth. Young chipped in with two hits, both doubles, as well.
Sikeston will be off until Friday when they kick off their SEMO Conference tournament with a rematch against the Dexter Bearcats at 4 p.m. at Dexter.
"We're just going to have to go back over there and play better than we did the last time," Self said. "Hopefully, we will."
Notre Dame 003 051 0 -- 9
Sikeston 000 000 0 -- 0
WP -- Tanner Hiett. LP -- Tyler Anderson. Multiple hitters -- Colton Young (N) 2-4, Jeremy Essner (N) 3-3, Jordan Williams (S) 2-3. 2B -- Young 2, Williams. HR -- Trenton St. Cin (N), Jeremy Essner (N).