Mineral Area got the better of Cape again at regional

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

The Pepsi Mid-America team lost to their nearby rivals five times in recent weeks, including this weekend.

The Cape Girardeau Pepsi Mid-America Senior Babe Ruth baseball squad's surprising postseason run ended last weekend, when the team was eliminated from the Midwest Plains regional tournament in Bonne Terre, Mo., after three games.

Cape, which represented Missouri, defeated Hastings, Neb., 10-3 in Friday's first round before falling to host Mineral Area 3-0 on Saturday and Galena, Kan., 6-3 on Sunday.

Going into the double-elimination regional event, Pepsi Mid-America second-year coach Alan Wengert said his team needed solid pitching and defense to advance. As it turns out, he was right.

Anthony Wulfers hurled a four-hit complete game in the opening round win, allowing all three runs in the first inning and allowing just one hit in the last six frames.

Cape (17-16) stumbled defensively after that, however.

Garrett Stevens' five-hit complete game wasn't enough to push Cape past state rival Mineral Area, which presented problems for Cape in July. Mineral Area was 5-0 record against Pepsi Mid-America in the last three weeks, including a win in the title game of the state tournament on July 24.

Cape managed as many hits as the regional host, but a two-run home run in the fifth inning for Mineral Area and a crucial missed opportunity late in the game for Pepsi Mid-America proved too much for Cape.

"I think their pitching is probably better than our hitting," Wengert said. "They're pretty loaded. ...

"At one point we had second and third, two out, and we couldn't get a hit. If we could've pushed a run to our side, we could've rode that momentum, but instead we made an out and the momentum goes back to their side. If we come up and get the hit, it's 3-2."

Mineral Area's first run was unearned, and the runner on base for the fifth-inning homer had been hit by a pitch. Cape committed three errors in the game, while Mineral Area went errorless.

In the first round of the state tournament in Charleston, Cape led Mineral Area 10-4 before allowing a last-inning comeback that resulted in an 11-10 loss.

"The first time we played them, we had them down 10-4," Wengert said. "And even on their home field [in the regional tournament], they beat us only 3-0. We're right there with them.

"If we get a timely hit here and there, we're in that game. Our hits were too sporadic."

Mineral Area won the regional tournament without a loss -- beating Albia, Iowa, 14-2 in its final game -- to earn its third trip to the Senior Babe Ruth World Series in four years.

In Sunday's elimination-bracket game, Galena scored five runs in the second inning on two Cape errors.

"I felt good going into the game," Wengert said. "I don't think we were mentally prepared. We gave them five outs in one inning."

Adam Thomas struck out five and allowed five hits in 5 1/3 innings on the mound for Pepsi Mid-America before being relieved by Wulfers.

"The kids had a good time," said Wengert, whose team received berths in both the state and regional tournaments as runner-up in division and state play to teams that hosted the next rounds.

"I knew the kind of kids that I had, and I knew the team that we could be if we came together," he added. "Nobody up there was looking past us. We gained some respect from these neighboring teams."

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