(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON -- Graves County took advantage of Sikeston's miscues.
The Bulldogs, who have made it an unhealthy habit of giving their opposition extra outs and bases of late, committed four errors which led to three runs Tuesday as Graves Co., Ky., defeated Sikeston, 5-4.
In their previous three losses, the Bulldogs had totaled 16 errors.
"We gave them three unearned runs that they should not have," Sikeston head coach Alan Scheeter said. "We put them there. We gave them their opportunities. I'd like to see us not give opportunities like that. We're to the point now that we need to stop giving opportunities."
The blunder that ultimately crippled the Bulldogs happened in the sixth inning when two outs were already recorded.
With Sikeston up 4-3, a walk to Graves County's Justin Hayden started it all. A throwing error during Andrew Gibson's at-bat put the tying and go-ahead runs on second and third. The Eagles' No. 9 hitter, Dallas Williams made the Bulldogs pay with a bloop single to right field that scored both runners and gave Graves Co. the 5-4 advantage.
"I thought we did a good job of exploiting their errors," Graves Co. head coach Khristain Elliott said. "I thought we did a good job of moving runners up on balls in the dirt and taking the extra base. Finally, something fell in the outfield during Dallas' (Williams) at-bat."
The Bulldogs were able to put the potential tying run on third in the bottom of the seventh, but failed to keep the game going.
"Our kids have got to find a way to get that killer instinct," Scheeter said. "They had a decent pitcher today, but we've seen way better and scored more runs off of better. It's like we got up and was just comfortable with that."
Drew Harper, whose ERA is hovering around 3.00 so far this season, was the hard-luck loser on the mound for Sikeston pitching all seven innings and giving up just two earned runs on four hits.
"He's had some real tough losses," Scheeter said about Harper. "We can't get any run support for him. He throws his guts out and we just can't do right behind him. I feel bad for the kids. His numbers are really good, ERA is low and we just can't support him."
Sikeston (12-9) managed an outburst of four runs in the third inning, but couldn't scratch any more.
Gavin O'Brien reached on an error to start the third and was followed by back-to-back-to back singles from Luke Keefer, Patrick Smith and Tyler Anderson, who knocked in O'Brien and Keefer.
A misplayed ball by the Eagles' outfield on a ball hit by Trent McMillan, drove in both Smith and Anderson for a 4-1 Sikeston lead.
With runners on first and third and just one out still in the third inning, Scheeter was hoping for more but it would never come.
"It was good to see us put together in that inning," Scheeter said. "We were sitting pretty good and then the brakes came off. I was glad to get the four, but I sure would have liked to have gotten more out of that. We should have gotten more out of that."
The Bulldogs failed to muster much of an offensive threat after that, totaling just two hits and four base runners in the final four innings.
Adam Riley picked up the win for Graves Co., pitching six innings and allowing two earned runs on six hits. Nathan Hackel earned the save after being given the ball in the seventh and stranding a runner at second to end the game.
"We usually know what we're going to get out of Adam," Elliott said. "I thought he did a good job with his pitches. After that third inning, he adjusted, got the ball down in the zone and hung up three more zeros for us."
Six different Bulldogs had a single for Sikeston. They also hit into two double plays, one ended their potential bigger third inning.
"We just failed to put teams away that we should put away," Scheeter said. "I felt like that was a team we should have put away and we just didn't."
Sikeston will host New Madrid County Central today at 4 p.m for their final regular season home game.
Graves Co. 010 202 0 -- 5 4 4
Sikeston 004 000 0 -- 4 6 4
WP -- Adam Riley. LP -- Drew Harper. S -- Nathan Hackel. 2B -- (GC) Justin Hayden.