NMCC nips Scott City to open tourney

Friday, April 30, 2004

New Madrid County Central and Scott City opened the SEMO Conference baseball tournament up on Thursday night at Capaha Park with a pair of pitching gems that led to a tight ballgame.

NMCC, the No. 8 seed, came away with a 3-2 decision in a game that lasted less than an hour and a half, featured only eight hits and three walks.

Ben Pyles kept No. 9 Scott City's hitters in check over his seven innings of work. Pyles faced more than four batters in an inning only once, and put the Rams down in order four times.

"That's as good as it's going to get besides a no-hitter," NMCC coach John Jones said. "When you let them hit and you have good defense behind you it builds your confidence."

Pyles' counterpart on the mound, Scott City junior Mark Johnston, allowed only five hits, walked two and retired the Eagles in order each of the last three innings.

"Johnston didn't have his best stuff, but he battled back and kept us in the game," Scott City coach Mike Umfleet said.

The Eagles scored first with a pair of runs in the bottom of the second inning. NMCC loaded the bases with one out, and Thomas Higgerson and B.J. Phillips delivered RBI singles.

NMCC added its third run In the third inning. Pyles led off with a single and Luke St. Mary drove him home with a triple down the right-field line. NMCC went hitless the rest of the way.

Scott City scored in the fourth with a two-run double from Jason Schenimann with no outs. Johnston followed Schenimann with a walk, but was picked off standing up at first, which killed the Rams' rally. Pyles struck out the next batter and got a ground ball to end the inning.

"We got the momentum and then they picked the batter off," Umfleet said. "That's a close play at first and the runner needs to go in head first. He's a good ball player, he won't make that mistake twice."

NMCC will play No. 1 Sikeston at 6 p.m. today at Sikeston in a quarterfinal game. Scott City will play Saturday against the loser of the Notre Dame-Kelly game.

"You just have to shake it off and get back at your next opponent," Umfleet said. "We might have a chance to play Kelly. That's a district opponent, that would be a huge game for us."

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