(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
NEW MADRID -- The Sikeston Bulldogs began the game with a slow pace with not much enthusiasm behind them.
Following the second inning, after the New Madrid County Central Eagles tied the game, Sikeston head coach Kevin Self challenged his squad to pick up the intensity.
They answered with four runs -- which what would be the difference -- in their 13-6 win over the Eagles on Thursday.
"It was taking forever for pitches to be thrown and for us to get in and out of the dugout," said Self. "We were back on our heels and all I did was challenge them to get up and go. That picked up the pace a little bit and helped us some I thought."
This was the last regular season game for both teams as they are slated to begin their respective districts Saturday.
Going into the third inning, NMCC had just tied the game at 4-4 with four runs of their own in the bottom of the second.
Sikeston doubled their advantage in the top of the third inning with four runs.
An outfield error that took place on a fly ball from Tyler Anderson scored two runs. Another error by NMCC on a ground ball by Ross Bohannon allowed two more runs to score and give the Bulldogs an 8-4 lead.
Sikeston wasted little time making sure their season ended in a good way. They jumped out to a 4-0 lead after two innings on four hits and three walks given up by NMCC starter Jayshawn McDaniel.
The Bulldogs scored their first two runs on and RBI double from Nathan Rodgers and an RBI single from Sikeston starter Trent McMillan in the first inning.
Anderson drove in a run in the top of the second on a double, while Bohannon pushed another run across on a groundout to second to give Sikeston their four-run advantage.
"We swung the bats when we needed to," Self said. "For the most part, we hit a lot of balls hard. That's what we're looking for from more than one or two guys."
The Eagles, however, answered in a big way.
NMCC scored four runs in their half of the second on two hits, three walks by McMillan and a throwing error by Sikeston's defense.
RBI singles by Josh Reed and Jimmy Ash, who finished with three hits on the day, tied the game at four.
"We swung the bats well today," NMCC coach Joseph McClarty said. "We had a pretty good approach at the plate and we seemed to be patient at the plate. We just couldn't come up with that big hit when we needed it."
The Bulldogs added two runs in the fifth and three more in the sixth, where Sikeston senior Evan Underwood smacked a two-run home run, to secure their win.
"Even though we got down by four again, we still had opportunities," McClarty said. "They just seemed to make the plays and we didn't do that.
"We just have to sharpen the mental side of the game and I think we'll be there."
McMillan picked up the win for the Bulldogs on the mound. He lasted four innings and gave up four runs on six hits and six walks.
McDaniel received the loss in 4 1/3 innings. The sophomore allowed nine runs on five hits and six walks.
"I think Jayshawn was trying to make the perfect pitch every time," McClarty said. "He knows how good their sticks are and he seemed a little rattled out there. But, that's just being young. He'll grow into that."
NMCC finished their season with a 7-10 record. They are scheduled to take on Kennett at 5 p.m. at Notre Dame High School.
Sikeston ended the regular season with a 12-6 record and are scheduled to play Desoto at 10:30 a.m. at Farmington in the Class 4, District 1 tournament.
"There are some moments where I wish we could have changed but there are others where we played really, really well," Self said about the regular season. "We beat some teams that we haven't beat in awhile. I know we have gotten better and are getting better."
Sikeston 224 023 0 -- 13
NMCC 040 000 2 -- 6
WP -- Trent McMillan. LP -- Jayshawn McDaniel. 2B -- (S) Tyler Anderson, Nathan Rodgers; (N) Tim Clayton.