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Harper silences Poplar Bluff bats as Sikeston takes fifth place game

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

(Photo)
Sikeston sophomore Drew Harper delivers a pitch to a Poplar Bluff hitter in the first inning on Tuesday afternoon in the fifth place game of the SEMO Conference Tournament. Sikeston won the game 5-0. David Jenkins, Staff
SIKESTON -- After Monday's disappointing loss to Fredericktown, Sikeston head coach Kevin Self was hoping, almost pleading, for somebody on his struggling team to provide a spark.

On Tuesday, Self got his wish as sophomore Drew Harper took the mound and gave the Bulldogs arguably their best pitching performance of the season in a 5-0 victory against Poplar Bluff at VFW Stadium.

The game, which gave Sikeston fifth place in the SEMO Conference Tournament, was finally played after two weeks of getting postponed due to weather.

Harper provided the heroics as he threw the complete game shutout. He didn't walk a single batter and only faced four batters over the minimum, striking out seven and allowing five singles.

"He was fantastic, he really was," Self said of Harper. "He was on from the get-go. His breaking ball was thrown for strikes, he changed speeds and the main thing is he got ahead. And if he had any mistakes or anything, we'd erase them with double plays."

The Bulldogs turned two double plays in the game and were much sharper on defense, committing just one error, compared to four on Monday.

With district play looming on Saturday, it was the kind of performance Self was looking for.

"We were in this ballgame from the start," Self said. "We know this is it. It's time to step up and give everything you've got and leave it on the field. Mentally, we were ready to play."

With both teams using wood bats per tournament rules, the game went by smoothly as neither team could muster any kind of offense.

In fact, Sikeston didn't even get its first hit until Cord Sheehy bunted for a single in the bottom of the fifth.

Sikeston (11-6) broke the game open in the bottom of the sixth as Tyler Anderson came through in the clutch, yet again.

The sophomore, who tied Monday's game with a bottom of the sixth grand slam and had a walk-off home run against Poplar Bluff earlier this season, broke the shutout with a two-run triple to left field.

"He had a big hit yesterday and he gets another big hit today," Self said of Anderson. "He's swinging it well. We've got to keep him going and get some other guys to hit with him."

Ross Bohannon then brought in Anderson with a sharply hit ball that was booted by the Poplar Bluff second baseman, who was playing in, leaving Bohannon safe at first.

Two batters later, Trent McMillan iced the game with a towering home run just inside the left field foul pole to push the lead to 5-0.

"What you don't want to do is think we've got two runs and that's enough," Self said. "You can't quit. We put a few more on the board and extended that lead a little bit."

Harper then retired the side in order in the top of the seventh to record the victory -- he set the Mules down in order four times in his seven innings pitched.

The Bulldogs only had three hits in the game, but they were timely as Poplar Bluff's Logan Faith was the losing pitcher, throwing 5 1/3 innings. He walked three and struck out seven.

"Our pitcher is just a sophomore and he was sharp through five, but not through six," Poplar Bluff coach Stan Bullington said. "The sixth inning just kind of got him. Anderson got that big triple on us and then we kind of let our heads down and it snowballed a little from there."

Poplar Bluff (6-9) was led in hitting by sophomore Josh King, who went 2-3.

Sikeston will play at New Madrid County Central today at 4 p.m. in a regular season SEMO Conference matchup.

Poplar Bluff 000 000 0 -- 0

Sikeston 000 005 x -- 5

WP -- Drew Harper. LP -- Logan Faith. 3B -- (S) Tyler Anderson. HR -- (S) Trent McMillan.