MOKANE -- After officially signing to play baseball at McKendree earlier in the day, South Callaway starting pitcher Jacob Martin earned his second win in as many starting appearances this season.
There was quality pitching from both sides; the South Callaway Bulldogs' proved superior as they beat the Belle Tigers 5-1 Monday at South Callaway's baseball field.
Belle could only muster one hit -- a single -- while South Callaway notched 10 hits, with six coming in its two run-scoring frames -- the second and fourth innings.
While it may have taken 92 pitches, Martin ensured the Tigers couldn't string any hits together against him.
After allowing a walk while striking out one on 17 pitches in the top of the first, Martin followed that up by sending Belle down 1-2-3 while registering two strikeouts on seven pitches in the second -- his best inning out of the five he pitched.
Whether it was errors or not throwing enough strikes, Martin couldn't minimize his pitch count for South Callaway as he did in the second.
In four of his five innings on the mound, the Bulldogs' Martin threw over 10 pitches. But on the bright side, Martin recorded a strikeout in every inning except the fourth while allowing one hit and walking two.
Martin wasn't the only South Callaway pitcher with a solid performance; Dane Daugherty also had a quality outing.
Daugherty pitched the final two innings, allowing no runs on no hits and a walk while striking out three. His most impressive frame was the sixth when he sent Belle down 1-2-3 on five pitches, including a strikeout.
"Both of them did a pretty good job of pitching to contact at times," South Callaway coach Heath Lepper said of his pitchers. "Out of our starter, we'd like to see no free passes, obviously; but he did. He did enough to get out of some jams. Kind of put himself in a couple and then worked his way out of a couple. Anytime you see your starter working out of a couple tough spots, we like seeing that."
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs had two great frames at the plate while they struggled to string hits together in the other five.
South Callaway scored four of its five runs in the second; the Bulldogs plated three of their runs on errors that inning.
JT Thomas started the frame by smacking the ball to center field, which Belle's centerfielder mishandled. Then, Thomas showcased his speed by reaching third as the Tigers' centerfielder tried to get the ball and throw it to third.
During Tucker Jones's at-bat, Thomas reached home to put South Callaway on the board first as Jones reached second on an error by Belle's third baseman.
Three batters later, Jones and Daugherty scored the Bulldogs' second and third runs as Martin reached second on an error by the Tigers' left fielder trying to catch his flyball.
Ryan Lepper notched the Bulldogs' only hit of the four-run second, smoking a stand-up RBI double to deep right-center.
Belle starter Blake Henry only went one more inning after the second and was tagged with the loss. Putting in a decent outing, Henry tossed three innings, allowing four unearned runs on four hits and two walks while striking out five.
Carter Kinkead replaced Henry in the fourth, allowing half of South Callaway's total hits that inning.
The Bulldogs registered five singles in the fourth, with all but one occurring with two outs.
Each of those two outs was made during Martin's at-bat. Then, two hitters later, Owen Rees drove Lepper home on an RBI single after beating the throw from Belle's shortstop -- Lepper also displayed solid baserunning, scoring from second after stealing second during Rees's at-bat.
South Callaway could've added more runs to its lead in the fourth, as it loaded the bases that inning. However, Braden Allen stepped up to the plate for the Bulldogs with the bases loaded and flew out to right for the final out of the fourth.
"We were probably just a hit away, here and there from one inning to the next, of really breaking the game open," Lepper said. "We left a couple of runners on in some spots that we didn't want to, but we did a good job. I think we only struck out a handful of times. Anytime you put the bat on the ball and make them make plays, it puts pressure on them. Especially early in the year, you're going to sneak out a couple of runs here and there."
No matter how it did offensively, South Callaway earned its fourth straight victory to start the season.
"We like seeing the way we started out," Lepper said. "As always, winning is better than losing. We try to focus more on what we do out there and not the result. Obviously, we want to win. But we're going to clean some things up offensively and defensively. We ran the (base)paths alright tonight a little bit, but we still got some things that we feel like we got a little room for growth."
Next, South Callaway (4-0) will play its first road/Show-Me Conference game this season when it faces the Linn Wildcats (0-0) at 5 p.m. Tuesday in Linn. Last season, the Bulldogs won the conference matchup 12-3 against the Wildcats on March 29 in Mokane.
"Anytime you play a conference school, you gotta show up in order to to get the W," Lepper said. "A couple of challenges that we face; we'll be playing on dirt, which we don't get a lot of opportunities to do--being on the road. Anytime you get your kids out of their patterns, their routines, you wan to see how they respond. These boys are pretty well disciplined, so they will be ready for the challenge."