Capahas to host elite team

Friday, June 20, 2008
AARON EISENHAUER ~ aeisenhauer@semissourian.com Plaza Tire's Denver Stuckey, left, prepared to field a ball during a game earlier this season.

The most important weekend of the Plaza Tire Capahas' season won't take place until early next month.

That's when the Capahas host the National Baseball Congress Mid-South Regional July 4 through 6 as they attempt to qualify for another NBC World Series.

But the most interesting weekend of the Capahas' season is this weekend.

Starting tonight, Plaza Tire plays five games in three days, all at home. The highlight of that stretch will be a visit from one of the nation's elite amateur teams.

The Crestwood (Ill.) Panthers will be in town for four games Saturday and Sunday, including three against the Capahas.

Crestwood, a Chicago suburb, finished third in the past two NBC World Series. The Panthers are one of the top programs to ever play the Capahas in Cape Girardeau.

"They're a big-time team," Plaza Tire manager Jess Bolen said. "I'm really looking forward to them coming here, for our fans to have a chance to watch us play a team like that."

The Capahas are no slouches themselves. They have made 26 straight trips to the NBC World Series, including last year's seventh-place finish.

"I feel like we've got a very good program," Bolen said. "Crestwood has an outstanding program. Finishing third in the nation the last two years, that pretty much tells you how good they are."

Crestwood and Plaza Tire will square off at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, followed by a doubleheader at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Saturday's action at Capaha Field also will feature Crestwood playing the St. Louis Printers at 1 p.m. and the Capahas taking on the Printers at 4 p.m.

Before all that takes place, the Capahas host the Waterloo (Ill.) Buds at 7:30 tonight.

"Waterloo and the Printers are also very good teams," Bolen said. "It's not like we can just forget about those two games and worry about Crestwood.

"It's going to be a big weekend for us. Our pitching depth will really be tested."

Bolen said Ivan Nails will start tonight, with Brad LaBruyere getting the nod Saturday against the Printers.

The Capahas then will trot out the three pitchers Bolen considers to be his aces to face the Panthers.

Anthony Maupin will go Saturday night, followed by Phillip Riley in the opener of Sunday's doubleheader and Jason Chavez in the nightcap.

"We've got our pitching lined up and ready to go," Bolen said.

Maupin and Riley said they are excited about testing themselves against one of the nation's elite clubs.

"Facing a team like that, it will really tell me how I'm throwing," Riley said.

Bolen said he expects to have one of the Capahas' key players on hand for the first time this season.

First baseman Matt Wagner, coming off an all-conference junior year at Southeast Missouri State, has been nursing some nagging injuries, but should play this weekend.

"We're looking forward to getting him on the field," Bolen said.

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