After 113 pitches, Kyle Smith had to throw one more. A strike would win the game for Hickman, a ball would load the bases, and a hit would most likely tie the game.
With runners on second and third and two outs in the seventh inning, Smith threw a fastball by Jefferson City’s Jimmy Cook to give Hickman a 6-4 win Monday at Hickman Field.
The strikeout was Smith’s 10th of the game. Hickman coach Kent Fewell said he would have pulled Smith had he walked Cook.
With games on Wednesday and Thursday, Fewell said he did not want to use many pitchers Monday.
“We had a three-run lead (entering the seventh) so we had a chance to go (with Smith),” Fewell said. “If it had been a one-run lead or a tie ballgame I don’t know if he’d have gone back out.”
Hickman (5-4) scored four in the fourth inning to open a 5-3 lead. After Smith singled to lead off the inning, Justin Jackson hit his second home run of the season well over the left-field fence.
“He gave me the same pitch earlier in the at-bat and I fouled it off,” Jackson said. “I can’t believe he came back in there.”
With two outs, left fielder Matt Schwartz doubled to left. Ryan Nesbitt reached when right fielder Clay Hutchison lost a fly ball in the sun and pinch runner Jake Unger scored. Chad Hatcher took advantage of the error by hitting a chopper that bounced over third baseman Tyler Bartimus to score Nesbitt.
Blake Tekotte gave the Kewpies a 1-0 lead in the first inning when he hit his third home run of the year.
Jefferson City went ahead 2-1 in the second. Jared Martin, Cody Higgins and Hutchison singled to load the bases. Then Ross Steiner hit a groundball to shortstop Tyler Jones, whose throw to first pulled Zach Heath off the bag. Martin and Higgins scored and Heath’s throw home went to the backstop, moving runners to second and third with no one out.
Smith regained control, got Cook to ground out to third and struck out the next two batters to end the inning.
The Jays added a run in the third. Andrew McMillan singled to lead off and J.C. Ramatowski hit into a fielder’s choice. Zach Roling pinch ran for Ramatowski and moved to second on a passed ball. Hutchison drove in Roling with a single.
Smith did not allow a hit in the fourth and struck out the side in the fifth. Nine different Jays struck out against Smith.
“I’m not trying to strike people out,” Smith said. “I’ve got a good defense behind me.”
Hickman padded its lead with a run in the sixth. Schwartz singled to left and Ryan Nesbitt was hit by a pitch. After Hatcher couldn’t get a bunt down to move the runners over, Eric Schultz pinch hit and singled up the middle to give the Kewpies a 6-3 lead.
Fewell said he was pleased with how his team reacted to its loss to Parkway Central on Saturday and said Monday’s win was the most important all season.
“Rock Bridge was (important) earlier in the year, but we didn’t win that one so we had to come out today and play a good game against good competition and play well,” he said.