Pine Bluff bounces back from blowout

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Pine Bluff, Ark., was run-ruled by the Charleston Riverdogs in Friday's opening game of the National Baseball Congress Mid-South Regional.

After the 16-6, seven-inning loss, the chances of the Braves' reaching the championship round of the four-team, double-elimination event seemed remote at best.

But somebody forgot to tell Pine Bluff's players.

The Braves posted two impressive wins Saturday, first stunning the Springfield (Mo.) Generals 13-4 and later beating Charleston 8-4.

So Pine Bluff finds itself in today's 1 p.m. title contest against the Plaza Tire Capahas, who are 2-0 in the tournament. The Braves need to beat the Capahas twice in order to capture the crown.

Plaza Tire manager Jess Bolen has certainly been impressed.

Bolen's squad needed a late rally to beat Springfield 6-5 in 10 innings Friday night. He considered the Generals the Capahas' biggest threat as they shoot for their third straight regional title.

After Pine Bluff shocked Springfield in Saturday's first game, Bolen called it the biggest Mid-South Regional upset since the Capahas began hosting the event in 1991.

"I think it is," Bolen said. "Not to take anything away from Pine Bluff, but I was very impressed with Springfield, and the way Pine Bluff looked in their first game ... but you've got to give them a lot of credit."

Pine Bluff received two complete-game pitching performances Saturday.

Sebastian Stargell, a 15-year-old left-hander, tossed a seven-hitter to eliminate Springfield.

Hard-throwing right-hander John Hadley struck out 12 and fired a five-hitter to eliminate the Riverdogs, who made eight errors.

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