Sikeston clips Firebirds
SIKESTON -- It's become clear with each game that the Bulls are not a great offensive team.
But they are however, extremely effective on the mound and in the field.
Once again that proved true on Thursday night as the Bulls rallied to defeat Farmington 3-2 at VFW Stadium.
Brett Miller's two-run home run in the sixth inning proved to be the game-
winner as Sikeston's pitching and defense did the rest.
Miller, a strapping 6-foot-4, 240-pounder, became the first Bull to leave the yard this season.
It just so happens that his teammates were teasing him a little before the game about his lack of pop thus far, prompting Miller to respond with the promise of a home run on Thursday night.
He proved to be prophetic.
"They were kind of ribbing me, saying that the little guys are going to hit the first home run," said Miller. "(Farmington pitcher Josh Manning) put one over the plate and I hit it was far as I could. It was an inside fastball and I turned on it."
But the game was far from over.
Farmington gave the Bulls one final scare in the ninth inning as they loaded the bases, but relief pitcher J.R. Bizzell struck out Jordan Kreke looking to end the game.
Earlier in the inning, Farmington had runners on first and third with one out. Ryan Dickerman hit a flyball to center field, but Farmington coach David Cramp held up his runner, Drew Horrell, after witnessing the strong arm of centerfielder Derrick Washington, who unloaded a strike to the catcher for good measure.
"That kid's got an arm," said Cramp of Washington. "Horrell would have been out by 30 feet if I had sent him."
The nailbiting ninth inning was almost too much to handle for Sikeston coach Jamie Puckett, but he was impressed with the way his team dug deep for a little extra.
"That's a lot of focus we had in the last inning," said Puckett. "Derrick making the throw from center field and then J.R. coming in and bearing down. I mean the whole bullpen, when (Jeremy) Brinkmeyer comes in and keeps them at two runs. That's big for our bullpen because we've been struggling there."
Sikeston's Todd Otto improved to 3-0 on the season with a solid performance, throwing seven innings and allowing two unearned runs off six hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
"Today he probably didn't throw his best, but he still got the win," said Puckett. "He's still focused enough to get the win. He's our No. 1 and he's a bulldog on the mound. He knows whenever it's not his day, but he still gets the job done."
Farmington (3-8) took a 2-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning kept alive by an error. The Firebirds' Ryan Meyer scored on a wild pitch and Joaby Sikes scored on a groundout by Horrell.
Sikeston cut the lead to 2-1 in the bottom of the fourth with a clutch two-out hit by Mike Sadler to bring in Mason Mosby.
Sikeston took the lead in the sixth when Manning walked Robbie Hohler, then allowed the two-out home run to Miller.
"That was huge -- you very rarely see home runs in this wooden bat league," said Puckett. "That shifts the momentum right there and our whole team gets up and is into the game from that point."
It proved to be just enough to pull out the victory.
"They got three runs on four hits and it really squandered a pretty good effort on the part of Josh," said Cramp. "It's really been like that all year long. We keep losing so many close games. Really what's plagued us more than anything else is we have not been able to get the two-out hit.
"You just can't do that in this league. We had people on second and third base all night long."
Farmington was 0-9 with runners in scoring position Thursday night.
Manning threw a complete game, allowing three runs and four hits. He struck out nine and walked three.
"We haven't seen a bad pitcher in this league yet," said Puckett. "This guy was Farmington's No. 1 and he was tough as nails. But when we execute on the little things we find a way to win. When your defense and pitching performs like ours have you're going to win a lot of ballgames."
Brinkmeyer threw 1-plus innings in relief of Otto, allowing two singles with one strikeout.
Bizzell picked up the save in the ninth, allowing two walks (one intentional) with a strikeout.
Mosby went 2-4 with a double for Sikeston.
Sikes, a Fredericktown native, went 2-3 with the Firebirds.
Daniel Miller was 2-3 for Farmington.
Sikeston and Farmington will meet again tonight at 7 p.m. The two will finish the series tomorrow at 7 p.m.