Defensive lapse is minor hurdle in 12th victory

Saturday, June 21, 2003

The Craftsman Union Capahas played by far their worst defensive game of the season Friday night -- yet still bounced back from their only loss of the campaign in a big way.

Despite committing four errors, the Capahas banged out 14 hits and took advantage of seven errors by the Southern Illinois Merchants to post a 19-5 victory at Capaha Field. The game was stopped after 6 1/2 innings because of the 10-run rule.

The Capahas had been charged with just five errors combined in their first 12 games of the season. But Friday's shaky defensive performance could not even come close to preventing them from raising their record to 12-1. The Merchants, based in West Frankfort, Ill., fell to 7-8.

"It wasn't one of our best games of the year," Capahas outfielder Tom Bolen said. "But it's good to come back with a win after getting our first loss."

The Capahas were defeated 5-4 at Tradewater, Ky., Monday night. When the Merchants showed up with just eight players Friday, the possibility of the Capahas being saddled with a two-game losing streak diminished greatly.

Merchants manager Willard Strain, middle-aged yet appearing plenty fit, was forced to play right field in order to fill out his team's lineup.

"I've got bad knees," said a smiling Strain before the contest. "But I've had to play before. We've had this problem a few times this year."

Continuing to use wood bats, as they do all season in preparation for the National Baseball Congress regional and national tournaments, the Capahas had one of their best offensive showings of the season.

Gary Gilbert went 3-for-3 and drove in five runs while scoring three times. He walked twice and reached base all five plate appearances.

"When you use wood, it's more of a mental thing. You can't hit the ball as far, so you have to cut down on your swing and just try to hit the ball solid," Gilbert said.

Bolen had three hits and three RBIs. Steve Kress had two hits, including a triple, and five RBIs. Dave Lawson and Wade Hansford both added two hits. Lance Seasor reached base five times -- on a hit, two walks and two errors -- and scored five runs.

"I liked the way we swung the bats," Capahas manager Jess Bolen said.

Matt Stroup did not have his best stuff but still eased to victory, working all seven innings. He allowed eight hits and two earned runs while striking out 10, walking three and hitting two batters.

The Merchants received a 3-for-3 performance from Dustin Hopkins and the game's only home run from Brandon Martin.

But that was not nearly enough to offset a late scoring burst by the Capahas that broke open what had actually been a competitive game. The Merchants trailed just 8-5 entering the bottom of the fifth inning, but the Capahas plated three runs and then made things a blowout with an eight-run sixth.

The Capahas return today with a 6 p.m. doubleheader against Cape Girardeau rival Riverdogs. Last Sunday, the Capahas edged the Riverdogs 2-1 and 2-0.

"We had a great doubleheader with them last time," Jess Bolen said, "and I expect another one."

335-6611, extension 132

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