Sikeston tops Jackson for district title berth today

Saturday, July 27, 2002

SIKESTON, Mo. -- It almost seemed like a football game broke out Friday night during the loser's bracket final of the American Legion District 14 Tournament at VFW Stadium.

Featuring a score that more resembled something from the football field than the diamond, second-seeded Sikeston outlasted fourth-seeded Jackson 23-17.

Sikeston (19-8) moves into today's championship round against top-seeded Dunklin County, the only undefeated squad remaining in the double-elimination event.

Sikeston needs two victories to capture the title while Dunklin County needs to win just once.

Today's starting time has been pushed back to 5 p.m. from the original 1 p.m.

Jackson (21-18) ends its season knowing that it made major strides this year. The squad went 3-2 in the district tournament to wind up third out of six teams.

"We had a great season and I had a lot of fun in my first year," said Jackson coach Mark Lewis, who joined the program this year. "I'm really proud of the guys."

Lewis was particularly appreciative of his team's spunky effort Friday. Jackson trailed 21-8 after five innings and 23-12 after six innings as it looked like Sikeston would invoke the 10-run mercy rule, which goes into effect after 6 1/2 innings.

But Jackson made Sikeston at least sweat a little bit by scoring five unanswered runs to close out the contest.

"It was a great effort, no doubt about it," Lewis said. "We missed some chances early and we just came up a little bit short."

Sikeston banged out 18 hits and four home runs in the wild affair, led by Blake DeWitt's 5-for-6 performance. DeWitt scored four runs and drove in three.

Nathan Eaves and Andrew Lambert both had three hits, including a home run, and four RBIs. Lance Rhodes and Mark Adam Wade also homered.

Jackson had 13 hits, led by Michael Birk and Josh Van de Ven with three each. Birk had four RBIs and scored three runs. Bryan Austin added two hits while Trevor Thompson had four RBIs.

Sikeston used four pitchers. Starter Jake Kimball got the win despite allowing seven runs on just four hits in three innings. He was hurt by 10 walks as Sikeston hurlers issued a whopping 17 walks.

Scotty Keenan, Sikeston's final pitcher, had the most success as he retired all six batters he faced to close out the victory.

Jackson used six pitchers and most did not fare well.

Jason Owen, the second hurler, took the loss. He gave up two hits and two runs in 1 1/3 innings.

Tyler Ward, Jackson's final pitcher, had the most success for his squad with two scoreless frames, allowing just one hit.

Jackson actually held early leads of 3-0 and 6-4.

Sikeston went ahead 7-6 in the bottom of the second, Jackson tied it in the third and then Sikeston took the lead for good at 9-7 with two in the third.

An eight-run Sikeston fourth helped open some breathing room, but Jackson kept battling until the end.

"Jackson didn't quit," Sikeston manager Charlie Dye said. "They deserve a lot of credit."

mmishow@semissourian.com

(573) 335-6611, extension 132

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