Capahas collect another pitcher, 27th victory

Saturday, July 26, 2008
KIT DOYLE ~ kdoyle@semissourian.com ABOVE: Fairview Heights runner L.J. Watson dove back to first ahead of the pickoff throw to Capahas first baseman Tom Bolen during Friday's game at Capaha Field. TOP: Capahas batter Chad Mercado connected with a pitch.

As if the Plaza Tire Capahas didn't have enough pitching -- here comes James Leigh.

Leigh, one of Southeast Missouri State's top starters this year, made his Plaza Tire debut Friday night against the visiting Fairview Heights (Ill.) Redbirds.

The left-handed Leigh dominated the Redbirds during a perfect two-inning relief stint, striking out five of the six batters he faced as the Capahas posted a 5-2 victory.

"My arm felt strong," Leigh said.

That's probably because Leigh hadn't pitched in a game since late May, when he wrapped up his junior season at Southeast.

Leigh said he had intended to play for a summer team in New York, but those plans fell through.

So the Arkansas native came back to Cape Girardeau and looked into joining the Capahas.

KIT DOYLE ~ kdoyle@semissourian.com Plaza Tire Capahas batter Chad (17) connected for an infield single Friday evening, July 25, 2008, at Capaha Field.

But Plaza Tire already had the maximum four current Southeast players on its roster (NCAA guidelines allow summer squads to have only four players from the same college team with eligibility remaining).

"I figured I'd just stay [in Cape Girardeau] and work out," Leigh said.

But one of those four Southeast players, Matt Wagner, recently suffered a season-ending ankle injury.

That gave Plaza Tire manager Jess Bolen the opening to add Leigh to the Capahas' roster.

Capahas third baseman Denver Stuckey charged a grounder and threw across his body to retire a batter.

"I wanted to play for the Capahas," Leigh said. "It's a lot of fun, a great atmosphere.

"Even when I wasn't playing, I'd come around to the games and I was treated like part of the team. There's a lot of great players, some older guys, but they still have it."

Needless to say, Bolen is pleased to add Leigh to an already stocked mound corps.

"It's a great pickup for us," Bolen said. "He looked good and strong. It looked like he was throwing hard."

Leigh combined with two other hurlers on a two-hitter as the Capahas (27-5) avenged a loss to the Redbirds (10-21) less than two weeks ago on the road.

Anthony Maupin continued to dominate as the Capahas' No. 1 starter. The former Southeast pitcher allowed two hits -- both solo home runs -- and two runs over six innings.

Maupin, who improved to 8-0, actually gave up as many earned runs as he had over his first 46 innings this season.

"It was a combination of aluminum [bats], bad pitches and good hitters," said Maupin, who struck out five and walked three. "They hit both of them pretty good, especially the second one."

After Leigh dominated in the seventh and eighth innings, Josh Parham continued his flawless summer with a perfect ninth. The lefty struck out two.

Parham, also a Southeast product, has not allowed a run in 17 innings.

"Our pitching has been great all year," Bolen said.

The Capahas, swinging their customary wood, managed just seven hits, including only one after the fourth inning.

Jerry Hodges went 2-for-5 to lead the Capahas.

Plaza Tire broke a 2-2 tie with a three-run fifth inning, getting an RBI double from Denver Stuckey, an RBI single from Daniel Schuh and an RBI ground ball from Chad Mercado.

Friday's contest was the Capahas' final scheduled home game, although Bolen said he will attempt to add another home contest next week as Plaza Tire continues tuning up for the National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, Kan.

"Games are so much better than practice," said Bolen, whose squad is slated to play its first NBC World Series contest Aug. 4.

Plaza Tire does have two more scheduled road games, today's 1 p.m. doubleheader at Valmeyer, Ill.

Redbirds101000000--225
Capahas10123000X--571

WP -- Anthony Maupin, 8-0. LP -- Luke Poston. S -- Josh Parham, 2. HR -- Jake Bayers (R), L.J. Watson (R). 2B -- Denver Stuckey (C), Asif Shah (C). Multiple hits -- Capahas, Jerry Hodges 2-5. Records -- Redbirds 10-21, Capahas 27-5.

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