Capahas shut out Pine Bluff to earn fourth straight regional crown
Monday, July 7, 2008
Most people figured it would be a major upset if the Plaza Tire Capahas did not win the National Baseball Congress Mid-South Regional.
Form held in a big way Sunday as the Capahas routed the Pine Bluff (Ark.) Braves 15-0 for their fourth straight regional championship. The game was stopped after seven innings by way of the 10-run mercy rule.
"It was a good weekend for us," Plaza Tire right fielder Jerry Hodges said. "We came out to handle our business and we played hard."
The host Capahas earned the regional's automatic bid to next month's NBC World Series in Wichita, Kan. Plaza Tire will make its 27th consecutive NBC World Series appearance.
"It's nice to take care of that," said Plaza Tire manager Jess Bolen, whose squad improved to 18-4 by winning for the 13th time in 14 games. "Now we can just play the rest of our [regular season] games and try to get everybody at bats, try to get our pitchers some work."
With the Mid-South Regional featuring only three teams this year, the Capahas wound up playing just two tournament games.
After receiving a first-round bye, the Capahas had some trouble with the Braves on Saturday before posting a 5-1 victory.
Plaza Tire had only five hits in that game, although four of them were doubles.
But the Capahas left no doubt as to Sunday's outcome. They banged out 15 hits and made sure there would not be an additional title contest in the double-elimination event.
"It's nice to get the automatic bid out of the way so we don't have to sit around and wait," said Plaza Tire third baseman Josh Eftink, named the regional MVP.
With Pine Bluff having already played three games in the tournament — one Friday and two Saturday — Bolen figured the Braves would be thin in the pitching department.
Although the Capahas led just 2-0 after four innings, that ultimately proved to be the case.
"You knew they couldn't possibly have any pitching left," Bolen said. "But you have to tip your hat to those guys. They played hard, they hustled. They played baseball the way it's supposed to be played, and I have a lot of respect for that."
The Capahas began to pull away in the fifth inning as they scored three times to lead 5-0.
Plaza Tire broke things wide open with an eight-run sixth inning that featured Eftink's three-run home run.
Eftink went 4-for-4 with a homer, a double and five RBIs.
Jerry Hodges had three hits for the Capahas as he matched Eftink with four hits in the tournament.
Asif Shah, Tom Bolen and Daniel Schuh all added two hits in Sunday's triumph. Schuh and Chad Mercado both delivered two RBIs.
"We just had to come out, play hard and take care of business," Plaza Tire winning pitcher Phillip Riley said.
Riley did that as he overpowered the Braves, allowing just an infield single while striking out nine and walking three over five innings.
"I wanted to try and extend it [pitch longer], but once we got the big lead I figured I'd come out," said Riley, who is 5-1.
Riley's performance came after Anthony Maupin went all nine innings during Saturday's win over the Braves as he improved to 6-0.
"Me and Maupin have been throwing pretty well. We like our one-two combination," Riley said. "When Maupin does good, I try to follow."
Brad LaBruyere and Josh Parham finished off the combined one-hitter by working an inning apiece. LaBruyere struck out the side and Parham fanned one.
"Our pitching was great in both games," Hodges said. "It's nice to know we're going back to Wichita."
Capahas 15, Braves 0, 7 innINGS
WP — Phillip Riley, 5-1. LP — Mark Cain. HR — Josh Eftink (C). 2B — Eftink (C), Asif Shah (C). Multiple hits — Capahas, Eftink 4-4, Jerry Hodges 3-5, Shah 2-2, Tom Bolen 2-3, Daniel Schuh 2-3. Records — Capahas 18-4.