SHS advances to semis of SEMO Conference Tourney
DEXTER -- Less than an hour away from game time, Sikeston's Jordan Williams abruptly got the news that he was heading to the mound to face the Dexter Bearcats in their first round game of the SEMO Conference tournament.
Scheduled to make the start was Tyler Anderson, but soreness in his pitching arm scratched him from mound duty leaving Williams as they next option.
"I kind of knew that I might have to pitch," Williams admitted. "I was just kind of ready for whatever."
Williams looked as though he knew he would have the ball on Friday afternoon two weeks ago the way he threw against the No. 3 seeded Bearcats as he led the Bulldogs to a 1-0 win.
Williams pitched the seven inning shutout on a very efficient 69 pitches. He allowed six hits and two walks and avenged their earlier season 3-0 loss to the Bearcats.
"That was a great job knowing that he found out 30 or 45 minutes before the game started," Sikeston head coach Kevin Self said. "He threw strikes and he used his defense."
Six hits for the Bearcats never developed as the defense behind Williams was just as efficient. The Bulldogs' infield turned three double plays to end the third, fourth and sixth innings getting Williams out of small jams that a walk got him in to.
He also got a hand from mother nature. It was that kind of day for Williams.
"The wind helped a lot," said Williams. "Everything was staying in front of (the defense) and they didn't have to go very far for anything."
The 15-20 mph winds the gusted from right-center to the third base line held up potential line drive singles and fly balls enough to turn them in to routine fly-outs. Wooden bats didn't help matters either.
"(Williams) mixed the ball up well on us," Dexter head coach Brian Becker said. "We didn't have great swings on him, and with a wooden bat even if you do connect it's not going to go very far."
Sikeston, who was the No. 6 seed in the tournament, only connected for two hits but just one of those was enough to down the Bearcats and finally tag a run on Dexter's ace Cody Stause.
In 11 2/3 innings, the Bulldogs had been held scoreless against Dexter on account of Stause and his mid-80's fastball and devastating curveball. But in the fifth inning, a leadoff walk to Trent McMillan came back to haunt Stause. A sacrifice bunt by Ross Bohannon moved courtesy runner Grant Hinton to second which was followed by the Bulldogs' first base hit of the game three batters later.
A 2-0 delivery to Anderson found a gap into right-center field that scored Hinton from second base which made all the difference.
"We execute with walks and we get our bunts down to move guys over and gave ourselves a chance," Self said. "Eventually, Tyler gets the hit to drive in the run.
"We knew how good he was because we've faced him before. Early in the game, again, he was just throwing it by us. But, when we got an opportunity we finally broke through and got one."
Stause gave up the one run on two hits, but one of his six walks ended up being the difference maker. He struck out 12 Sikeston batters on 113 pitches.
"Cody threw a great game," said Becker. "You give up two hits and you expect to win the ball game. It just came down to they got the clutch hit when they needed it and we couldn't pull through with one.
"Today, he had the one bad inning with the lead off walk."
In last year's SEMO Conference Tournament, the Bulldogs' turned some heads when they made it to the championship game against the Jackson Indians. Although they ended up taking second, it never fails that when the SEMO Conference tournament comes around the Bulldogs' always seem to put past games behind them and play some of their best baseball.
"When we get into tournament time we look forward to that and we want to play in them," Self said. "You can't fear anybody. If your going to win regardless of where your seeded, your going to have to beat some good teams.
"We preach about playing well in this tournament. We'll see how that goes."
Sikeston (12-6) was scheduled to play Kennett on Saturday, weather permitting, while Dexter was scheduled to play at 2 p.m. at Cape Central.
Sikeston 000 010 0 -- 1
Dexter 000 000 0 -- 0
WP -- Jordan Williams. LP -- Cody Stause. Multiple hitters -- (D) Bryn Hester 2-3, Tyler George 2-3.