SIKESTON -- Heading in to this weekend's Junior Legion District 14 tournament, Sikeston coach Matt Johnson worried the absence of a few key hitters for the opening round might hurt his team's chances.
(Photo by Brent Shipman, Staff)
"We have a really solid hitting club," said Johnson. "When we're on we can lose about anybody and be fine. That's happened today and we were on.
"They weren't crushing the ball, but they put it in play if you put the ball in play at this level you'll win."
With Sikeston starter Ace Armstrong providing a complete-game of one-hit ball, Auxiliary Unit 114 went to work piling on the runs in the first three innings.
Sikeston had the advantage of back-to-back singles from Cody Rodgers and John Foster to start the game as they went to collect three runs on three hits and walk.
Cape answered with their only tun of the contest in the bottom of the first frame, but with three more runs in the top of the second, Auxiliary Unit 114 showed they were still in control.
It was in the third that Sikeston strung together its biggest rally of the night to pull away 10-1. Armstrong was able to help his own cause by getting hit by a pitch to start the inning before coming around to score.
By the end of the inning Nathan Hampton, Rodgers and Luis Matos had all reached before coming around to score as Auxiliary Unit 114 plated four runs in the frame.
After being held in check in then top of the fourth for their first scoreless frame of the contest, Sikeston entered the fifth just one run shy of a mercy-rule win. They'd get the run when Matos connected for a one-out double before coming around to score.
"We didn't let down in any innings and we didn't take any innings off," Johnson said. "That was good to see."
Still needed to close the bottom of the fifth with their 10-run lead intact to wrap up the win, Auxiliary Unit 114 ran in to some trouble when a leadoff walk and two-out error put runners on first and second.
Before a run could score Armstrong finished what he started by inducing a fielder's choice to end the game.
In picking up the win Matos allowed one earned run on one hit and three walks while striking out one. His only blemish of the day came when he allowed a leadoff single to Trevor Propst in the bottom of the first as Propst eventually came around to score.
"Ace was back to form on the mound and that's what helped us out," Johnson said. "Usually where he struggles is the first couple of innings and he gets better as he goes.
"He started out on fire and finished up on fire. We were very solid defensively behind him."
Johnson added that his team's effectiveness in closing out the game in five innings saved Armstrong two innings on the mound. He said this could come in to play as he can now use Armstrong in a closer's role on Saturday.
At the plate Auxiliary Unit 114's 12-hit attack was led by Matos, who went 3 for 3 with a double and triple. He reached and scored in all four plate appearances.
Austin Brown and Blake Wolferdeng each added three hits to Sikeston cause as well while Rodgers, Foster and Adam Kennard and Foster contributed a single apiece. Both Rodgers and Foster came around to score twice.
For Post 63, Probst had the team's only hit while Aaron Grainger reached on walks in both of his plate appearances.
(Photo by Brent Shipman, Staff)
"Sikeston has had our number this year. That's the fourth time they beat us all summer. They have the confidence against us right now."
With the win Auxiliary Unit 114 stays in the winner's bracket of the four-team double-elimination tournament. They played Jackson at 4 p.m. on Saturday for a chance to move on to the title game which will be played today at 1 p.m.
Sikeston 334 01 - 11
Cape 100 00 - 1
WP -- Ace Armstrong. LP -- Michael Essner. Multiple hitters: (S) Luis Matos 3-3, Blake Wolferdeng 3-4, Austin Brown. 2B -- (S) Matos. 3B -- (S) Matos.