(Photo by Brent Shipman, Staff)
SIKESTON -- Unable to overcome an early six-run deficit on Monday, the Sikeston All-Stars fell 8-5 to Emporia, Kansas in pool play at the Cal Ripken 11U Midwest Plains Regional Tournament at the Sikeston Sports Complex.
"We had too many errors early and waited too late to come back," Sikeston coach Stacy Pratt said. "We battled back and came close. We gave it a shot."
Trailing 8-2 entering the bottom of the third, the All-Stars slowly chipped away at Kansas' lead starting with a Bryce Bays doubled scoring Noah Brown to close Sikeston to within five.
Then, after stranding a runner in the fourth, Sikeston came back in the fifth and collected three straight hits to open up a two-run rally.
Coming up to the plate with out, Brown started things off with a double before coming around to score on a Bays triple. Capping the rally, Bays then came home on a Will Gilmer single to cut Kansas' lead to 8-5.
Down to their final three outs in the sixth, Sikeston looked to have momentum when the first two batters in the inning reached to leave runners on first and second with the tying run at the plate.
After a strikeout, however, the All Stars lead runner was caught in a rundown trying to score on an Austin Branch single, leaving Sikeston with two outs and still trailing by three.
Finally, with runners still on first and second, Kansas' pitcher Kostin Mercer caught an All-Star batter looking for a called third strike to end the game.
"We had a couple of errors there at the end, base running errors, and we came up short," Pratt said. "It was close and I thought we had it. I really did."
Holding a 2-1 lead after the first inning, Sikeston saw Kansas do most of its damage in the second and third frames. With two outs in the second, Kansas strung together four straight hits as part of a four-run rally.
Dallas Schaeffer and Sawyer Slayden kicked things off with back-to-back hits before Daniel Herrera brought both home with a double. Herrera and Mercer then scored to finish off the rally.
It was then in the top of the third that Kansas took its biggest lead of the game with Eric Hertlein, AJ Granado and Michael Yackovich all reaching before scoring to put their team up 8-2.
"I was pretty impressed with our boys," Kansas coach Tim Mercer said. "After the second game (in pool play) we kind of had a let down, but today they played like they're capable of. I'm proud of them."
Going all six innings, Kostin Mercer picked up the win. He allowed five runs on eight hits and two walks while striking out five
"He's kind of like a rock," Tim Mercer said. "He's the guy that I can count on to go in there and just throw strikes for me. He's my boy and I'm pretty proud of him."
On offense, Kansas was led by Slayden, Herrera and Mercer as each collect a pair of hits, including doubles by Slayden and Herrera. As a team, Kansas had 11 hits and finish pool play with a 2-2 record.
For Sikeston, who finished with a combined eight hits, Brown, Bays and Gilmer led the way with two hits each. Brown had two doubles while Bays had a double and a triple. Gilmer hit the team's only home run, a two-run shot in the first inning to put Sikeston up 2-1.
"There was a lot of hard hits, but it seemed like when we hit it that it found a glove," Pratt said.
With a 2-1 record, the All Stars will wrap up pool play tonight when they play Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada at 7:30 p.m.