Starting pitcher Mikey Russell and Sikeston Legion Post 114 had been able to do what many teams haven't over the summer which was to keep Dunklin County Post 303 from grabbing that ever-important early lead.
Unfortunately for Post 114, they couldn't hold on much longer giving up just one run in the top of the fourth which became the small crack in the dam that would eventually bust wide open.
"I had high hopes up until they scored that first run," said Russell. "Once they scored I just knew something was going to go wrong. Every chance you get to put them away, you have to take it. You can't give them any reason to hang around or they're going to hurt you.
"Once they got that one run it kind of went downhill from there."
Sikeston lost 10-0 in eight innings on Friday night as Dunklin County scored six of their runs in the final two innings during the 2010 District 14 Legion tournament at Notre Dame Regional High School.
Sikeston had the first opportunity to go ahead in the game with two outs, lead-off man Bryan Freed walked, followed by a single from Russell and another walk to Ross Bohannon. With the bases loaded and their No. 4 hitter, Josh Boese strolling to the plate, Post 114's chances of attacking the mighty Dunklin County were looking good.
However, facing two strikes, Boese hit a soft ground ball to shortstop Tyler Thompson that ended the inning and Sikeston's last and only opportunity for a run.
"We had one opportunity really throughout the game and that was it," Sikeston coach Chris Crosby said. "They're pitching is just so good."
Adam Grantham delivered the devastating blow right after in the fourth inning, with a two-out, RBI double to left field. It was especially huge Dunklin County manager Jamie Johnson said because of the bases loaded jam starting pitcher Dylan Lynn got himself out of just the half inning before.
"After getting that first run and giving ourselves the lead I think that really relaxed us," Johnson said. "We got out of that bases loaded situation and after that, we started getting a few more hits. But, I tip my hat to Sikeston. They played us a real tough ball game. The score really doesn't reflect how close it was."
Russell was a huge part of the tight contest in the early going. His first hit that he gave up was the double to Grantham. Before that, Russell had Post 303 guessing with a barrage of changeups and eventually his curveball. At one point, he had sat down eight consecutive batters.
"At the beginning of the game my changeup was working real well," Russell said. "Then I felt like a had to start aiming that pitch so, my curveball ended up being there. I wanted to come out and try to get ahead early, that way I could work my pitches better. The first couple of times through the lineup I kept them off balance. But, that's a really tough team over there."
Russell ended up going 6 1/3 innings and gave up seven runs, three earned, on five hits. Boese came in as relief and was dinged with a 3-run home run from Heath Horvath to give Post 303 the 10-run mercy rule.
"Mikey did a very good job," Crosby said. "He started out real well but towards the later innings he got a little tired, which your going to. Plus, with a lineup like (Dunklin County) it's just murderer's row out there. You make one mistake and they're going to let you know about it.
"But, to go six innings against that club is saying something."
Lynn gave Dunklin County six innings of two-hit baseball while striking out eight Sikeston hitters. Grantham entered the game after Lynn walked his first batter of the seventh inning. Grantham ended the game after six consecutive strikeouts.
"Pitching was the key to the game for us," said Johnson. "We got a lot of groundballs, which I'm not sure if there was a fly ball hit to us. Dylan and Adam both did a great job of getting ahead of hitters and making sure they didn't hurt us."
Russell and Ben Freed had the only hits for Sikeston which were both singles. Horvath, Aaron Booker and Joe Campbell each had two hits for Post 303. Booker also added a double.
Sikeston fell to the loser's bracket and played the winner of the Jackson-Poplar Bluff matchup on Saturday. Results from the game will be in the Monday edition of the Standard Democrat.
Dunklin Co. 000 121 33 -- 10
Sikeston 000 000 00 -- 0
WP -- Dylan Lynn. LP -- Mikey Russell. Multiple hitters -- (D) Heath Horvath 2-4, Aaron Booker 2-4, Joe Campbell 2-4. 2B -- (D) Booker, Grantham. HR -- (D) Horvath.