(Photo by Brent Shipman, Staff)
CHARLESTON -- Held to only four hits by Kennett Senior Babe Ruth starter Payton Raspberry, Sikeston Legion Post 114 opened up the Fighting Squirrels Classic with a 6-3 loss on Thursday to fall to the consolation bracket of the tournament.
"It seemed like we struggled hitting all the way through it," Sikeston head coach Alan Scheeter said. "We got one (run) in the first and we kind of went silent again until the sixth. I don't know what the deal is.
"The first couple of games (this season) we were trying to get the feel for one another, but we're getting to point now where we should be getting past that."
Taking their only lead of the contest in the top of the first, Post 114 quickly fell in a hole when Kennett answered with three runs in the bottom of the frame.
Putting their first two runners on with a walk and a dropped ball in the outfield, Kennett went on to collect two hits and a pair of walks as the took a 3-1 lead.
Kennett added another run in the second before a pair of RBI singles from JD Willis and Collin Smith in the fourth put their team out in front 6-1.
After going down in order in each of the last two innings at the hands of Raspberry, Sikeston's bats found some life in the top of the sixth when Josh Hampton opened the inning with a double. Coming up after Hampton, Zach Downing was hit by a pitch before both runners were plated by Austin Hatchel's one-out single to left field.
Chasing Raspeberry after he followed Hatchel's hit with a walk, Post 114 looked to have gained momentum as they stood with runner on first and second with the tying run at the plate.
Bringing in ace Tyson Campbell to close the door, however, Kennett got a fly out and a strikeout to strand both runners and stay ahead 6-3.
"I was glad to not just lay down," Scheeter said of the rally. "At 6-1 it would have been very easy for us to just say, 'alright we're beat, let's be done with it.' We get a couple of kids on and Hatchel gets a big hit and drives in two runs. It was good to see that."
Though Sikeston pitcher JayShawn McDaniel forced Kennett to strand a pair of runners in the bottom of the sixth to keep it three-run ball game, Post 114 went down in order in the seventh to end the game.
Going 5 1/3 innings, Raspberry picked up the win. He gave up all three Sikeston runs on four hits and three walks while striking out four.
"He didn't throw much this spring," Kennett head coach Ronnie LeWallen said of Raspberry. "I think he might have got a little tired there late, but that's his second quality start this summer. I'm really proud of the way he threw the ball and I hope he continues to build on it.
Added Scheeter, "He kept us off balance, threw his curveball for a strike. Credit him a little bit, but I just don't know that we ever came ready to compete today."
Coming in to spell Raspberry, Campbell earned the save as he retired all five batters he faced in 1 2/3 innings of work, striking out one.
Taking the loss, Sikeston starter McDaniel pitched a complete game, giving up six hits and three walks while fanning eight. Most of Kennett's damage came in the first two innings where they got three of their six hits on the contest.
After that McDaniel held them to only two runs on three hits over the final four innings.
"To be honest I don't think he threw enough in the bullpen to get loose," Scheeter said. "It seems to me like he really, in the fourth, fifth and innings, he threw better than he did in the first three innings. We made a couple of miscues behind him. I had a couple of kids playing out of position, which you're going to have that in the summer time.
"You have to kind of fill kids in wherever they can and we misplayed a couple of balls. Nothing major, but things where if we have regular kids in position I think we make those plays. Then it might have been a different story."
Outhitting Sikeston 6-4, Kennett was led by DK Wallace, who was 2 for 3 with a double and two runs scored while reaching base three times on the contest.
For Post 114, Patrick Smith, Austin Godwin and Hatchel had a single each while Hampton contributed the team's only double.
With the loss, Sikeston will play Dunklin County Legion, who fell to Mayfield, Ken. 3-2, today at noon in Charleston at Hillhouse Park.
Sikeston 100 002 0 - 3 4 2
Kennett 310 200 x - 6 6 1
WP -- Payton Raspberry. LP -- JayShawn McDaniel. SV -- Tyson Campbell. Multiple hitters: (K) DK Wallace 2-3. 2B -- (K) Wallace; (S) Josh Hampton.