The Bulldogs got the big win they needed, defeating rival Notre Dame 10-7 on Tuesday afternoon at VFW Stadium.
It marks perhaps Sikeston's top victory of the season, defeating a Notre Dame team that is seeded first in the upcoming tournament and, coming into Tuesday's game, is ranked third in the state in all classes according to prepbaseballreport.com.
"That's saying something for a Class 3 team to be the third best team in the state and we came out today and we beat them," Sikeston coach Alan Scheeter said. "Anytime you get a win it feels good, and anytime you get a win over a quality club like Notre Dame, it feels even better. It's a big rivalry between us and them and to get a win here at our place in any fashion feels good."
The Bulldogs (9-5) broke a 1-1 tie with a nine-run explosion in the bottom of the third inning to build a 10-1 lead.
They would need nearly every one of the runs as Notre Dame (13-2) rallied to the point of bringing the go-ahead run to the plate in the top of the sixth with the bases loaded.
Sikeston was able to get out of the jam and Drew Harper pitched a perfect seventh inning to close out the save.
"It was nerve-wracking in that stretch for me," Scheeter said. "We've had troubles in the past winning the close game. We've lost three games by one run. I was just hoping today would be the time that we turned that around a little bit. We let them back in it and we didn't buckle. I was real proud of our kids."
One of those one-run losses came at the hands of Notre Dame, 10-9, in the season-opener in March.
Tuesday was a chance at avenging that loss.
Sikeston struck first, scoring a run in the bottom of the first inning on a sacrifice fly by Tyler Anderson to bring home Patrick Smith.
Notre Dame tied it in the top of the third on an RBI-single by Chase Simmons to plate Kyle Campbell.
Sikeston then blew the game open in the third, sending 13 batters to the plate in the inning.
Trey Tigart and Smith both had two-run singles while Anderson had a two-run double into the left centerfield gap.
"We opened the door in that one inning and they took advantage of it," Notre Dame coach Jeff Graviett said. "You throw in a few walks and a couple flares, then a few big hits and they explode for nine runs, and from what I've seen in the paper a couple times they've been capable of doing that."
Just last week the Bulldogs scored 10 runs in the first inning against Charleston. The Bulldogs nearly repeated that feat on Tuesday.
Everything went right for Sikeston, including a few bleeders that were able to find holes in the Notre Dame defense.
"That inning right there was huge," Scheeter said. "They had a couple walks and they made a couple errors, but we hit the ball and put it in play. We didn't kill the ball every time we hit it, but we did just enough. It seems like everybody caught on and we were replacing baserunners one after another and before you know it we had nine runs."
Notre Dame did not go away, though, as they scored three runs in both the fifth and sixth innings to trim the lead to 10-7.
Sikeston's defense did not help themselves, committing three errors in the stretch and giving six free passes to Notre Dame batters, either by walk or hit batsmen.
Trailing 10-7, Notre Dame's Josh Haggerty strolled to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the sixth, but Harper was able to induce a pop up on the infield to end the rally.
"I was sitting there thinking that there's an opportunity we'll get 10-run ruled today," Graviett said. "It had all the writing on it that it would be 11-1 in five innings, but we came back and chipped away, and like I told the guys, don't get all nine of them back at one time. We had an opportunity with the bases loaded and two outs and one hit away from making this real interesting."
Harper then closed the door in the seventh, striking out two batters and getting a groundout to end the game.
"Drew came in that last inning and he said, 'nope, this game's over,'" Scheeter said. "He threw strikes and the game was over."
Notre Dame's Jonathan Lynch was the losing pitcher, throwing 2 2/3 innings. Ross James and Haggerty combined to hold the Sikeston offense scoreless the rest of the way.
Sikeston collected 10 hits in the game led by Smith, who went 3-4 with two RBIs and three runs. Trent McMillan went 2-3 with an RBI.
Anderson led the team with three RBIs.
Scheeter went with four different pitchers with Anderson getting the start for the first time this season. The junior righty was sharp, pitching two scoreless innings and striking out two.
Tigart entered the game in the third and ended up getting the win. He threw two innings, allowing one run off three hits with a strikeout.
Cord Sheehy threw 1 1/3 innings, allowing three hits with one strikeout.
Harper picked up the save in the final 1 2/3 innings.
Notre Dame collected seven hits against the Sikeston pitchers led by Stephen Brennan and Campbell with two hits each.
"I didn't know which guy I wanted to go with," Scheeter said. "I know Tyler needed to get going and he needed to start because he's only had two relief appearances all year. I figured I'd let him go a couple innings and get some work in. Going into the conference tournament I want my pitching to be wide open, so everybody basically got a bullpen set today. My top four pitchers got good work today and now we're fresh and ready to go for Friday, Saturday and Monday."
Sikeston garnered the fourth seed in the tournament and will host fifth-seeded Dexter on Friday at VFW Stadium.
Notre Dame 001 033 0 -- 7 7 3
Sikeston 109 000 x -- 10 10 3
WP -- (S) Trey Tigart. LP -- (ND) Jonathan Lynch. S -- (S) Drew Harper. Multiple hitters -- (ND) Stephen Brennan 2-3, Kyle Campbell 2-4. (S) -- Patrick Smith 3-4, Trent McMillan 2-3. 3B -- (ND) Stephen Brennan. 2B -- (S) Tyler Anderson.