(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON -- The Sikeston Bulldogs have had some thrilling comebacks this season, and for a short while against Fredericktown on Monday, it appeared that they may have another rally up their sleeve.
But this time the Bulldogs came up short, falling 8-6 to the Blackcats at VFW Stadium.
It was Sikeston's first home game since defeating Jackson on April 14 due to flood waters that covered the field the past few weeks.
Now the Bulldogs find themselves struggling in many areas, including defensively, where they committed four errors.
Sikeston has now lost three of its last five games.
"We've just got a lot of guys struggling right now," Sikeston coach Kevin Self said. "We've picked a poor time to be in a slump. But we are. We have hit a slump for sure. It's the worst baseball we've played all year. But part of that is, we haven't been on our field, we've been on the road, we've had no time in the cage."
Sikeston (10-6) fell behind 5-0 against the Blackcats but battled back and managed to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth on Tyler Anderson's grand slam.
However, that was the last bit of magic left for the Bulldogs.
Fredericktown (9-8) plated three runs in the top of the seventh highlighted by Rusty Allgier's solo home run to put his team up for good.
"This was a good game to get the monkey off our back," Fredericktown coach Scott Davis said. "We've had some rough outings lately and we haven't been making the plays behind our pitchers. It wasn't a real pretty game by either team, but it's a good win for us."
Fredericktown seized control of the game early with two runs in the top of the first inning off Tanner Ward's two-run double.
The Blackcats pushed across two more runs in the third and one more in the fifth to lead 5-0.
Meanwhile, Sikeston's offense was non-existent, collecting just one hit in the first three innings.
"We pretty much gave them two runs in the top of the first," Self said. "We just weren't ready to play. Most of our games that we've lost, we can't make the plays when we need them to get out of innings. And then we come in and just start popping things up. We had no life."
The Bulldogs broke the shutout on Evan Underwood's RBI-single in the bottom of the fourth inning to trim the lead to 5-1.
After a scoreless fifth, two errors by the Blackcats in the bottom of the sixth led to a bases loaded situation with nobody out for Sikeston.
Anderson launched the first pitch he saw over the left field fence for his team-leading sixth home run of the season. With one swing of the bat the game was tied, 5-5.
"He threw the wrong pitch, first of all," Davis said of his pitcher Tanner Ward. "Second of all he was getting tired and he got the ball up. They've got good hitters and if you get the ball up you're going to be in trouble."
The Bulldogs, however, weren't done.
With reliever Bryant Barks in the game, Ross Bohannon then drew a walk and made it over to third on back-to-back wild pitches with nobody out.
Things were looking good for Sikeston, but an infield popup, a ground out to the pitcher and a strikeout ended the threat.
"That was the ballgame," Self said. "If we score there, then maybe (Allgier) doesn't hit that home run. Maybe we go out with a little confidence. I thought about squeezing with Nate (Rodgers), but he doesn't bunt much and hasn't bunted much. If I had a different guy, I might've squeezed there."
Allgier's solo home run along with two more runs by the Blackcats in the top of the seventh proved to be more than enough to secure the victory.
Sikeston still didn't go quietly as Cord Sheehy hit a solo home run in the bottom of the seventh to cut the lead to 8-6.
Sikeston managed to load the bases with two outs, but Barks was able to get a pop up to end the game.
Barks was the winning pitcher, throwing two innings and allowing one run off two hits and two walks with two strikeouts.
Ward got the no-decision, throwing five plus innings and allowing five runs, three earned, off five hits with five walks, two hit batters and five strikeouts.
"I thought this was one of his better outings," Davis said of Ward. "He was getting ahead in the count and he threw pretty well. If our defense would start making plays then our pitchers would have a lot less stress up there."
Sheehy was the losing pitcher in relief.
Trey Tigart threw six innings for Sikeston in getting the no-decision. He struck out six and walked five while allowing five runs, three earned, off five hits.
Anderson went 2-4 with four RBIs to lead the Bulldogs.
"We've got to find something to spark us," Self said. "We've got to find some way to get this turned around and we're going to have to do it quickly."
Allgier was 2-3 with two RBIs and three runs for the Blackcats. Ward went 2-4 with two RBIs and Brady Brewen also collected two hits.
Sikeston will play against Poplar Bluff in a rescheduled matchup of the SEMO Conference Tournament fifth place game today at 5 p.m. at VFW Stadium.
Fredericktown 202 100 3 -- 8
Sikeston 000 104 1 -- 6
WP -- Bryant Barks. LP -- Cord Sheehy. 2B -- (F) Tanner Ward. HR -- (F) Rusty Allgier. (S) Tyler Anderson, Cord Sheehy.