The Paducah (Ky.) American Legion baseball program has been one of the nation's best over the years, regularly contending for national honors in addition to winning numerous state titles.
Manager Denny Potts says this year's Paducah team pales in comparison to some of the previous squads -- but you'd have a hard time convincing Cape Girardeau Ford & Sons of that.
Paducah exploded for 12 runs in the sixth inning to break open a tight game, and the visitors rolled past Cape 16-5 Monday night at Capaha Field. The game was scheduled for nine innings but ended after seven innings on the 10-run rule.
Ford & Sons fell to 3-4, while Paducah improved to 4-3.
"This is not a typical Paducah team," Potts said. "This is the youngest team we've had. We're trying to piece a team together."
Paducah won another Kentucky state title last year before being eliminated in the regional tournament. But that team lost most of its key players, including most of its pitching staff that sent three hurlers to NCAA Division I programs.
Two young Paducah hurlers stymie Caped on Monday, although Ford & Sons did manage 10 hits. But a whopping 17 stranded runners -- Cape left the bases loaded five times -- hurt the home squad.
"We're not a very good team right now," Cape manager Tom Reinagel said. "We've got a lot of work to do."
Paducah starter Adam Finke, who will be a junior in high school, struggled with his control as he walked five and hit two batters in three innings. Finke also allowed four hits, but Cape managed just three runs after leaving the bases loaded twice.
Reliever Clint Tilford, who will be just a sophomore in high school, fared better as he got the win. In four innings, he allowed two runs and six hits, with two strikeouts and three walks.
"We should have scored a lot more off the first pitcher," Reinagel said. "Leaving 17 runners on base is hard to believe."
Jake Welch pitched well for a while but wound up taking the loss, allowing six runs (five earned) and seven hits in five-plus innings. He struck out three and walked five.
Sean Bard allowed eight runs and did not retire a batter after replacing Welch in the 12-run sixth. Michael Taylor and Dustin McKinnis each pitched one inning and allowed one run.
Tyler Schlosser went 3-for-3 and walked twice to lead Cape's offense. Seth Hudson and Matt Wulfers both added two hits.
Chris Clark had three of Paducah's 15 hits. Paducah also received 10 walks.
The teams were tied 3-3 entering the sixth, but that's as long as the game stayed competitive. Brock Wright led off with a home run, and Paducah proceeded to send 18 batters to the plate, receiving seven hits, six walks and two hit batters.
Reinagel didn't use many of his key pitchers since District 14 play begins tonight at Sikeston.
"We were a little short on pitching, but we've got a lot of games coming up and we're going to have to find some," Reinagel said.
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