(Photo by Brent Shipman, Staff)
BENTON -- Taking the field just 24 hours after their season-opening, extra-inning loss to Notre Dame, the Sikeston Bulldogs picked up their first win under new head coach Alan Scheeter on Wednesday.
Despite the best efforts of Kelly ace Ian Householder, the Bulldogs took advantage of several Hawk miscues in the field to pull out a 7-3 win.
"We put things together and played well today," Scheeter said. "Trent (McMillan) threw a really good game. We didn't hit it as well as we can or what we should at this point early in the year.
"It's going to take awhile for the bats to catch up, but we'll take the first win. It wasn't pretty, but we'll take it."
After mounting back to back 2-run rallies in the third and and fourth innings, Sikeston was able to push ahead 5-0 in the fifth when McMillan scored from third on a fielding error by Kelly's second baseman.
Though they had only collected one hit in the first four innings, the Hawks were able to break up the shutout in the bottom of the frame when Jeff Gates stepped to the plate with the bases loaded.
Gates broke the Hawks scoring drought with a shot to left field that dropped just a few feet in front of the left fielder, scoring Householder from third and leaving the bases loaded again.
Two more Kelly runners came home in the frame on a pair of wild pitches, which allowed the Hawks to close in on the Bulldogs at 5-3.
"That's something we work on all the time in practice trying to get good jumps on balls in the dirt and trying to advance bases," Kelly head coach Josh Eftink said. "I told them I was proud of the way they ran the bases today. That's a way we can pick up two or three extra runs a game."
Coming up empty handed in the sixth, Kelly saw their comeback grow far more difficult when Sikeston pushed across the final two runs of the game in the top of the seventh. After going down in order in the sixth, all on strikeouts, the Bulldogs kicked off the seventh by putting runners on first and second with one out.
Working the count full, Clay Driskill lined a hard hit ball down the foul line that the third baseman couldn't quite collect.
Driskill's hit brought Anderson home from second while a hustling Drew Harper scored on the same play on an errant throw to third as the catcher tried to catch Harper taking the bag.
"Coming into the seventh inning I said we need to scratch right now," Scheeter said. "(Kelly) has the momentum and they have confidence. We get a couple more runs and all of the sudden it becomes that much more tough for them.
"I told them all day long that the field is not in that great of shape and if you put the ball in play a little bit you never know what can happen. Clay did exactly that. He hit the ball down the line, the guy had a little trouble fielding it and we get two runs out of it."
With one last chance to mount a comeback, the Hawks put a runner on first with one out before a 6-4-3 double-play ended the game.
"It's one of those things where you could tell it was our first game," Eftink said. "Defensively we had some mistakes. I don't know how many errors, but at least four or five. Anytime you give a team like that extra runs, (you're going to pay.)"
Despite leaving with an injury, McMillan picked up the win for the Bulldogs. He allowed three runs on three hits and five walks in 4 2/3 innings while striking out five.
It was after the pair of runners came in on wild pitches in the fifth that McMillan hurt himself coming down wrong after delivering a pitch.
"He's had knee troubles behind his right knee there in the past," Scheeter said. "He came off the mound and with all of the sand that we have out there he miss stepped.
"I guess he hyper extended it a little so we'll be day-by-day on him. This is something he's used to. I'm sure in a day or so he'll be just fine."
Luke Keefer came in and pitched 2 1/3 innings of one-hit shutout ball to earn the save.
Taking the loss, Householder pitched a full seven innings for the Hawks. He allowed all seven runs, though only three earned, on six hits and three walks while striking out nine.
"I think this is the third year in a row we've seen him," Scheeter said of Householder. "As a matter of fact, I think it's the third year in a row that those two pitchers, (Householder and McMillan) have hooked up.
"He may have changed things up a little bit because he kept us off balance. He has a good little off speed pitch and a good tailing fastball. You saw our right handed hitters jumping away and still getting a piece of the inside corner."
Sikeston 002 210 2 - 7
Kelly 000 030 0 - 3
WP -- Trent McMillan. SV -- Luke Keefer. LP -- Ian Householder. 2B -- (S) Tyler Anderson, Jacob Wilson, Andrew Hicks; (K) Gaven Ray.