(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON -- The Sikeston Bulldogs got back on the winning track with a 6-2 victory over St. Mary's on Thursday afternoon at VFW Stadium.
The Bulldogs, who had been struggling defensively the past few games, snapped out of the funk with several key defensive plays and solid hitting against the Vikings.
"I think we improved from yesterday's performance in every aspect of the game," Sikeston coach Alan Scheeter said. "We hit the ball really hard pretty much throughout the game and we played much better defensively."
St. Mary's, a private school out of Paducah, Ky., actually out-hit the Bulldogs 10 to 8 in the game, but Sikeston made its hits count, coming through with clutch hits when runners were in scoring position.
"We had several extra-base hits," Scheeter said. "Luke (Keefer) came right out and smacked one in the gap for a triple and that got us going."
Keefer led off the bottom of the first with a triple and scored on Josh Hampton's single to lead 1-0.
St. Mary's was able to tie the game in the top of the second on Brett Quigley's RBI-single to right field to bring in Eamon Hannan.
The Bulldogs (11-8) were able to take the lead for good in the bottom of the third as Trent McMillan one-hopped the left field fence for a two-run double, pushing Sikeston ahead 3-1.
McMillan would then score on Drew Harper's base hit to lead 4-1.
Meanwhile, St. Mary's was shooting themselves in the foot with base-running mistakes. Sikeston pulled off an inning-ending and rally-killing double play in the top of the third when Ross Whittaker swung at a third-strike pitch that got away from the catcher, but he was thrown out at first.
St. Mary's Blake Vaughan tried to score from third on the play, but the first baseman Hampton nailed him at the plate to keep the Vikings from taking the lead.
"It not only shows that we can make plays, but it shows that we can think and know what's going on and we can put that mental aspect of it into physical performance," Scheeter said. "We can do that at any point in time, but the last few games we haven't. Today we showed flashes of what we could do physically."
Sikeston also turned a 4-6-3 double play in the top of the fourth to thwart another Vikings rally.
But perhaps the most spectacular defensive play of the day came when St. Mary's had runners on first and third in the top of the fifth.
They had already scored a run in the inning to cut the Sikeston lead to 4-2 and were threatening to creep even closer when Davis Sims sent a sharp grounder for what appeared to be a run-scoring single, but Sikeston second baseman Jacob Wilson made a diving stop and throw to first to end the inning.
St. Mary's (18-10) never threatened again after that.
"We out-hit them, but we left runners on and we couldn't move our people along," St. Mary's coach Lawrence Durbin said. "We had a couple base-running blunders that kind of hurt us. We're better than that -- we had a kid thrown out from centerfield on a base hit. We're real young --we've got two freshmen and two sophomores that play."
Sikeston added two more insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth on Tyler Anderson's two-run home run to left field to lead 6-2.
Bulldog hurler Trey Tigart did the rest as he pitched two scoreless innings to finish off the victory.
"Trey didn't have his best stuff today, but he was effective with what he did have," Scheeter said. "He gave up quite a few base hits, but our defense picked him up. We made some big outs on the base paths. We made two errors, but we didn't let them hurt us."
Tigart threw all seven innings, scattering 10 hits with seven strikeouts and a walk, marking the first batter that he has walked this season.
Anderson led the Bulldogs, going 2-3 at the plate with two RBIs and two runs.
Vaughan and Luke Meredith each had two hits to lead St. Mary's.
Hannan was the losing pitcher, throwing four-plus innings and allowing seven hits and six runs (four earned). He struck out two and walked none.
"Sikeston has a real solid team, they don't make a lot of mistakes and that's one reason I wanted to play them," Durbin said. "I wanted to come over here and play some good competition."
The Bulldogs are scheduled to host South Pemiscot today at 4 p.m.
The Sikeston freshman team defeated Jackson 17-7 on Thursday at the Sikeston Recreational Complex.
Sikeston (3-1) saw four players hit home runs in the slugfest.
Colton Hampton went 4-4 with a home run and two doubles. Jacob Clark went 3-3 with a home run, double and four runs scored. Jordan Griggs and Luke Williams also had home runs for the Bulldogs.
Chase Gaines went 3-4 in addition to recording the win on the mound.
St. Mary's 010 010 0 -- 2 10 2
Sikeston 103 020 x -- 6 8 2
WP -- Trey Tigart. LP -- Eamon Hannan. Multiple hitters -- (SM) Blake Vaughan 2-4, Luke Meredith 2-4; (S) Tyler Anderson 2-3. HR -- (S) Tyler Anderson. 3B -- (S) Luke Keefer. 2B -- (S) Trent McMillan.