(Chris Pobst, Staff)
However, as good as the Bulldogs were on Tuesday, they went the opposite direction on Friday as they fell 15-5 in six innings to fifth-seeded Dexter on a cold, windy day at VFW Stadium.
The loss sends the fourth-seeded Bulldogs into the loser's bracket of the tournament where they were scheduled to play eighth-seeded New Madrid County Central on Saturday. Dexter was scheduled to play top-seeded Notre Dame on Saturday.
The Bulldogs (9-6) have been plagued with inconsistent play this season and it struck again on Friday as they committed six errors, gave 10 free passes to Dexter hitters and unleashed six wild pitches and passed balls.
"We didn't deserve to win," Sikeston coach Alan Scheeter said. "You go out and give a good team like Dexter 10 free baserunners and you make six errors to go along with it, that's what you get right there."
Dexter only managed six hits in the game, further illustrating Sikeston's sloppy play.
"We've been inconsistent, up and down all year," Scheeter said. "Some days we come out and play really, really well, then other days we come out and it's like we've never played the game before. Today just happened to be one of those days. We just didn't have it today."
Dexter (13-5) scored three in the top of the first on a two-run double by Jordan Miller. Miller then scored on a two-out error by the Bulldogs.
Sikeston took its only lead of the game in the bottom of the second on some defensive mistakes by Dexter.
Bearcat hurler Alex Cliff hit a batter and walked two others to load the bases. He appeared to get out of the jam with a two-out strikeout, but the ball got away from the catcher, allowing a run to score and keeping the inning alive.
Sikeston took full advantage with an RBI-single by Patrick Smith. A throwing error allowed another run to cross the plate, tying the score at 3-3.
Tyler Anderson then singled to centerfield to bring in the go-ahead run, but Smith was thrown out at the plate trying to score from second on a strong throw from Dexter centerfielder Cody Neldon. But Sikeston now led 4-3.
The lead was shortlived, though, as Dexter brought home two more runs in the top of the third without recording a hit -- three walks and an error in the outfield was all the Bearcats would need to take a 5-4 lead.
Dexter added two more runs in the fourth, helped by two errors and a walk and two more runs in the fifth before erupting for six runs in the sixth to lead 15-4.
Sikeston tacked on one more run in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI-double by Andrew Hicks to bring in Josh Hampton, but that was all they could muster.
"Credit them, they played a good ballgame," Scheeter said of Dexter. "They made a couple mistakes too and gave us a couple runs, but for the most part they hit the ball hard. They'd get a double behind two walks or a single behind two walks, and then we'd have a couple errors. It was just a recipe for disaster."
Dexter got a strong pitching performance from Cliff, throwing all six innings and allowing five runs (one earned) on seven hits with four strikeouts and four walks.
"Alex Cliff did an outstanding job for us on the mound -- he pitched outstanding," Dexter coach Brian Becker said.
Cliff was helped by a stout defense, most notably from Neldon in centerfield, who tracked down several flyballs deep into the gaps, made a couple nifty diving catches and saved a run with his assist to home plate.
"(Neldon) was a star today -- he played a good ballgame," Becker said. "He missed a squeeze bunt there, but other than that he was all over the outfield today. He patrols it out there and he's got a cannon out there so you better be careful if you try to run on him because he likes to try to gun people out."
Dexter successfully laid down three sacrifice bunts -- two of which were suicide squeeze bunts -- and had one bunt that went for a hit.
The Bearcats also swung the bats well, hitting several balls hard that were knocked down by the gusting winds blowing straight in from centerfield.
"We hit the ball well all day long and we hit it hard," Becker said. "With that wind blowing in, we had some balls that would have been 30 feet out of here on a calm day. Sikeston kicked it around a little bit, but at the same time we hit the ball hard."
Dexter was led in hitting by Brad Potts, who went 2-4 with two runs and two RBIs.
Anderson was saddled with the loss for the Bulldogs, throwing two-plus innings and allowing five runs (three earned) off two hits with two strikeouts and five walks and a hit batter.
Dexter 302 226 -- 15 6 3
Sikeston 040 001 -- 5 7 6
WP -- Alex Cliff. LP -- Tyler Anderson. Multiple hitters -- Brad Potts (D) 2-4. 2B -- Jordan Miller (D), Josh Overall (D), Andrew Hicks (S).