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Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016

Dunklin Co. cruises by Unit 114 in six innings

Monday, June 18, 2012

Sikeston's John Foster fires a ball to first base Sunday afternoon against Dunklin County. Unit 114 fell 11-1 in the first game of the doubleheader. Dustin Ward, SMNS
SIKESTON (SMNS) -- Dunklin County Legion cleanup hitter Zach Watkins has tried to simplify how he approaches his at-bats in recent weeks.

"I had a couple of bad games earlier in the season and was in a hitting slump," Watkins said. "I've got to where finally I don't think about what I'm doing too much at the plate. I just try to put the bat on the ball."

Watkins got the bat on the ball multiple times in Dunklin County Legion Legacy Equipment's conference game against Sikeston Legion Sunday afternoon.

Watkins was one of five Dunklin County hitters to calculate at least one RBI in the first game of a doubleheader, going 2 for 4 at the plate with a team-high four RBIs.

Dunklin County never trailed in the road contest as it cruised to an 11-1 six-inning run-rule win against Sikeston Legion.

"It turned out good for us today," Watkins said. "We started off real slow with the bats. I think we are starting to get in a groove and not thinking about it as much. We are starting to come together offensively."

Dunklin County starting pitcher Logan Blackburn was nearly unhittable after a shaky start on the mound in the first inning.

Sikeston loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the first when its first three hitters reached base on singles. Cleanup hitter Luis Matos plated Sikeston's only run when he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Blackburn retired Sikeston's next three hitters to escape the jam without additional damage.

"I thought he came out a little bit hesitant," Dunklin County coach Jamie Johnson said of Blackburn's start. "After that he really started to attack hitters and got ahead with his pitches. He's a kid that can throw strikes and get out of jams. I thought he threw the ball well today."

Sikeston collected only one hit off of Blackburn after the first inning.

"It was a huge opportunity missed," Sikeston coach Alan Scheeter said of scoring only one run in the bottom of the first inning. "We had the bases loaded with nobody out and couldn't get the ball out of the infield the remainder of the inning. That's a situation where you should be able to easily push three across the plate. We didn't take advantage of it and didn't get quality at-bats after our cleanup hitter got hit. We never got anything going the rest of the game. It was like the momentum went immediately to them after the first inning and we never got it back."

Dunklin County jumped out to an early 3-0 lead when it platted three runs on three hits in the top of the first inning.

Dunklin County did not have a hitter reach base in the second or third innings, but stretched its lead to double digits after it platted five runs in the fourth inning, one run in the fifth inning and two runs in the sixth inning.

Dunklin County's Justin Norman went 2 for 4 at the plate with one RBI. Blackburn tallied a two-RBI double. Dunklin County's David McDaniel and Hunter Cook both collected a one-RBI single.

Matos suffered a complete-game loss on the mound. Matos allowed nine hits and eleven runs in six innings pitched. Matos struck out five and walked five.

Blackburn retired 16 straight Sikeston hitters before Sikeston's Cord Sheehy broke the streak with a one-out single in the bottom of the sixth inning.

"It started out rough," Blackburn said. "I was hitting the middle of the plate too much. In the later innings I started to work the corners better and they didn't hit it as well."

Sheehy finished 2 for 3 at the plate and was the only Sikeston hitter to collect multiple hits.

"I like to see him coming around," Scheeter said of Sheehy. "If we are going to get back in the winning column he is going to have to come through for us. He's one of our better players and I'd like to see some good things out of him."

Sikeston made two defensive errors in the game. Dunklin County did not commit an error two days after it made multiple errors in a 6-4 loss to Jackson Legion in its conference opener Friday night.

"Our defense is usually really good and I trust them," Blackburn said. "They back me up."

Johnson was pleased to see his team produce at the plate without one of its standout hitters in the lineup.

"Zach had to step up today and hit in the four hole," Johnson said. "Dustin Spencer is out with an injury. I thought we put some good swings on some balls today. That's something we have been missing lately.

"Spencer's injury is just a day-to-day thing," Johnson continued. "We are monitoring it and allowing him to have a little rest. Maybe we will see how he is when we return to practice Monday."

Blackburn earned a complete-game win. He allowed four hits and struck out six.

Dunklin County (7-6) improves to 1-1 in conference-play with a win against Sikeston Legion.

Dunklin Co. 300 512 - 11 9 0

Sikeston 100 000 - 1 4 2

WP - Logan Blackburn. LP - Luis Matos. 2B - Logan Blackburn (D), Justin Norman (D). Multiple hits - Dunklin County: Norman 2-3, Zach Watkins 2-3, Jacob Trammell 2-3. Sikeston: Cord Sheehy 2-3.