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Rams can't find clutch hits against Poplar Bluff

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

(Photo)
Scott City's Travis Phillips connects with a ball in the seventh inning Monday against Poplar Bluff.
(Photo by Chris Pobst, Staff)
sports@standard-democrat.com

SCOTT CITY -- Coming up with the big hit eluded the Rams.

Twice Scott City had the bases loaded and even brought the potential go-ahead run to the plate Monday but the Poplar Bluff Mules escaped each jam to eventually win 5-2 at Scott City High School.

"I think we just had two hits with runners in scoring position," Scott City head coach Lance Amick said. "We lose 5-2 to Poplar Bluff, 5-1 to Notre Dame and 5-1 to Chaffee, in those games against good teams we just cannot find a way to get those runners home when they're in scoring position."

Getting a hit at all nearly befell Scott City as their first base-knock of the game came in the sixth inning.

Poplar Bluff's Brandon Stuckenschnieder threw the first three innings of no-hit ball while Hunter Pratt continued the trend of keeping the Rams off the hits column for the next two innings.

"We got some good swings off of (Stuckenschnieder)," Amick said. "You just tip your cap to them. They made some good pitches, they made good plays and that's what good teams do."

A two-out single by Ryan Fortner in the sixth inning broke the curse. Austin Atchley ended the shutout a batter later hitting a double that scored Brett Dirnberger to make it 5-1.

After a walk to Heath Pobst, the Rams had the bases loaded with a chance to cut Poplar Bluff's lead even more, but failed to do so.

"We hit a lot of balls hard today, we just couldn't get them to the spots we needed to," said Amick. "We had rallies in those innings and that says to me that we've got a team that wants to win and is competitive. I can live with those kinds of efforts."

Scott City (11-8) was able to put one more run up in the seventh inning and was also able to load the bases once again.

After an RBI single by Travis Phillips scored Layne Spies, walks to Landon Robert and Fortner loaded the bases with two outs.

A groundout to second ended the Rams' late threat and the game.

"You give up five runs in a ball game you like to think that would be enough to win it," Amick said, "those runners we left in scoring position just didn't allow it today."

Poplar Bluff's Wesley Pyles picked up the save getting the last two outs of the seventh inning. The Mules (14-7) pitched four different players in preparation for the district tournament coming up later this week.

So much in fact, Stuckenschieder was lifted after three innings, even with a no-hitter going.

"We've got a lot of guys pitching well," Poplar Bluff head coach Stan Bullington said. "We came over here with the intent of throwing three different guys. Stuckenschnieder threw great and I told him before the game that he was going to throw just three unless he had a no-hitter going. I didn't even realize he did."

The Mules, who ended up with seven hits, scored their first run in the first inning and their second in the next frame. They added two more in the third on an RBI single by Josh King and an error.

King scored Poplar Bluff's final run in the fifth when Pyles hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield.

"We're doing a pretty good job of getting base hits, getting people on and moving them around," Bullington said, "however, we're not getting that hit to get those big innings going. We haven't broke it out yet. We've got to find ways to get more runs when we have the opportunity."

Jonathon McFall was handed the loss after going four innings and giving up four runs (three earned) on five hits.

Logan Henson pitched the final three innings and gave up one run on two hits.

"That's the first game Jon's started all year," Amick said. "We thought he could be competitive in this game and if he gets a few breaks he's out of a few of those innings. That's a good sign."

Scott City will play Kelly today at 4 p.m.

Poplar Bluff 112 010 0 -- 5 7 1

Scott City 000 001 1 -- 2 5 2

WP -- Brandon Stuckenschnieder. LP -- Jonathon McFall. S -- Wesley Pyles. 2B -- (SC) Austin Atchley. Multiple hitters -- (P) Lucas Tibbs 3-4.