Central pitchers struggle to retire Sikeston

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Bulldogs' offense awoke to hand Tigers their first loss.

A day after managing just one hit in a win against Scott City, Sikeston hitters teed off on the Central pitching duo of Justin Myers and Tyler Propst in a 10-7 SEMO Conference win Wednesday at Central.

Sikeston (3-0, 2-0 in the SEMO Conference) had just seven hits in its first two games this season before busting out for 14 against previously unbeaten Central.

"For whatever reason, we don't swing the bats well early [in the season]," Sikeston coach Kevin Self said. "We swing them well here. I like this park, and our kids like this park.

"Without some defensive plays, we could have been on the short end."

The Tigers fell to 4-1 overall and 4-1 in the SEMO Conference.

Central's top four hitters -- Matt Hester, Blake Slattery, Brad LaBruyere and Garrett Stevens -- had plenty of success against Sikeston starter Jerod Scott. The foursome accounted for nine of Central's 10 hits.

Stevens, the cleanup hitter, was 3-for-4 with three doubles and three RBIs.

But the Tigers had trouble getting the big hit when it counted. Central stranded four runners in scoring position and hit into three double plays. In the fourth, the Tigers stranded a runner on third with no outs.

But Central, which fell behind 7-1 heading to the bottom of the fourth, did score one run in the inning.

The Tigers closed to 7-4 after five but Sikeston regained its six-run edge.

A two-out, three-run rally in the bottom of the seventh narrowed the final gap.

"I felt like we always had a chance to come back, but you can't always bank on that," Central coach Steve Williams said. "You can't wait until the last inning to come back. We had a couple of chances there. We had a guy on third with less than two outs and we couldn't get him in. That could have made a difference. Every time we get a guy on third with less than two outs, we have to cash in."

While the Bulldogs' offense hit the ball hard throughout the game, a costly error changed the momentum in their favor. Central trailed 2-1, and Sikeston had the bases loaded and one out in the top of the second. Myers fielded a grounder and got the second out of the inning at home, but the catcher threw wildly to first base, bringing in two runs. Sikeston added another run in the inning and led 5-1 after two.

"That was a two-run error, and if we could have found a way to get out of that inning, then we could have had the tying run on second base [in the seventh]," Williams said.

Sikeston chased Myers after a pair of hits to start the fourth inning. Propst allowed both runs to score, putting Myers' line at seven hits, two walks and seven runs in three-plus innings.

Propst was equally hittable, allowing seven hits in four innings. Sikeston went in order in the fifth, the only time Central retired the Bulldogs in order, but added two runs in the sixth and one in the seventh off Propst.

"We didn't get the ball down all day long," Williams said. "Both our pitchers were up in the zone, and they hit it."

Nick Lambert and Scott Droddy had four hits apiece for the Bulldogs. Lambert had three RBIs.

Hester, Slattery and LaBruyere had two hits apiece for the Tigers. Slattery drove in two runs.

Sikeston 10, Central 7


WP - Jerod Scott, 1-0. LP - Justin Myers, 1-1. 2B - Garrett Stevens 3 (C), Blake Slattery (C), Nick Lambert (S), Scott (S), Brad LaBruyere (C). Multiple hits - Sikeston, Lambert 4-5; Scott Drody 4-5; Scott 2-2; Dustin Barker 2-4; Central, Stevens 3-4; Slattery 2-4; LaBruyere 2-4; Matt Hester 2-3. Records - Sikeston 3-0, Central 4-1.

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