(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON -- Despite two home runs by junior Drew Harper, the Sikeston Bulldogs continue to be plagued by defensive miscues as they fell 7-5 to Cape Central on Wednesday afternoon at VFW Stadium.
The Bulldogs have now dropped three of its last four games and all three losses can be attributed in large part to shoddy defense, committing a combined 16 errors in the three games.
"When you make six errors in a ballgame with three of them in the outfield, you can't expect to beat any team. I don't care who it is. I don't care if you play a little league team, if you make six errors you're not going to beat them," Sikeston coach Alan Scheeter said.
All six errors proved costly as pitcher Cord Sheehy was only charged with two earned runs in the game.
"I thought (Sheehy) did a good job," Scheeter said. "He did what a pitcher's supposed to do -- he made them hit it and made them put it in play, but we just couldn't catch it behind him. He pitched well enough to win."
Sheehy threw all seven innings and allowed seven runs (two earned) off eight hits with two walks and five strikeouts.
Cape Central's Chase Hagerty was the winning pitcher, throwing seven innings and allowing five earned runs off eight hits with two walks and six strikeouts.
"Chase did a great job on the mound for us," Cape Central coach Steve Williams said. "He battled all day -- he made some great pitches early and got us out of a couple jams. He got a little tired late, but he pitched so well I wanted to give him a chance to win."
Cape Central (5-14, 4-4 SEMO Conference) made four errors themselves, but none of them came back to haunt the team.
The Bulldogs never could come up with timely hits as they stranded eight base runners.
"I credit their pitcher -- he kept us off-balance," Scheeter said. "He threw a lot of changeups and a lot of breaking pitches. He got ahead and was hitting the outside corner on us early in the count. We look up and we're 0-1 and that puts the pitcher at ease and us on the defensive. Then we foul one off and it's 0-2 and that makes it a lot easier on him. He did a good job today."
Cape Central broke a scoreless game with a run in the top of the fourth inning when Ryan Siebert reached on an error and eventually scored on a groundout by Matt Chism.
Sikeston (10-8, 3-4 SEMO Conference) tied the game on Harper's solo shot to left field in the bottom of the fourth.
The Tigers scored three runs in the top of the fifth to take the lead for good at 4-1 helped by two more Bulldog errors. They added two more runs in the sixth to lead 6-1 on a two-run home run by Christian Cavaness to cap a 4 for 4 day at the plate for the senior.
Sikeston cut the lead to 6-2 on a sacrifice fly by Josh Hampton in the bottom of the sixth.
The Tigers got the run back on an RBI-single by Chism in the top of the seventh to lead 7-2.
Sikeston, however, wouldn't quit as they got an RBI-double by Tyler Anderson and a two-run homer by Harper to make things interesting in the bottom of the seventh, cutting the lead to 7-5.
"Harper had two good swings today," Williams said. "The first one Chase made a bad pitch and left it back over the plate when he was trying to go in. The second time it was 2-0 and he was behind and (Harper) wasn't the tying or winning run, so we wanted to make him hit the ball and he did."
With a runner at first, the Bulldogs then brought the tying run at the plate, but a 4-6 fielder's choice ended the game.
Harper finished 3 for 3 with three RBIs and three runs scored.
"He hit three hard balls today and he had a real good day at the plate," Scheeter said of Harper. "Hopefully he's starting to come around and be where he needs to be."
Sikeston's Luke Keefer also was a multiple hitter, going 2 for 4 with a run scored.
The Bulldogs will try to bounce back today when they host St. Mary's (Ky.) at 4 p.m.
"This is a tough one to lose," Scheeter said. "We lost a tough one on Monday and now this one today. I was pleased that we didn't just lay down and take it. We made a run at it and made it at least respectable score-wise. We've got to get on a roll and start getting positive heading into district. We've still got a lot of talent, but we've got to find some way to come ready to play every day. We've got to come ready to play and ready to win every day, and until we do that, we're just going to be very mediocre."
Cape Central 000 132 1 -- 7 8 4
Sikeston 000 101 3 -- 5 8 6
WP -- Chase Hagerty. LP -- Cord Sheehy. HR -- (C) Christian Cavaness; (S) Drew Harper 2. 2B -- (S) Tyler Anderson. Multiple hitters -- (C) Caveness 4-4, Thomas Crocetti 2-4; (S) Harper 3-3, Luke Keefer 2-4.