Offense provides fireworks in opener

Sunday, June 28, 2009
Capahas second baseman Jeremy Patton tosses to second for an out during the second inning of the first game against the Panthers on Saturday at Capaha Field. (Elizabeth Dodd)

Plaza Tire won the first game, but dropped the second.

Plaza Tire Capahas manager Jess Bolen was a bit apprehensive entering a doubleheader against the Crestwood (Ill.) Panthers on Saturday with several of his key position players not available.

Much to Bolen's surprise, the Capahas' offense was strong during a 10-5 win in the opener of the twin bill against perennial national power Crestwood. Both contests were scheduled for seven innings.

"I didn't think we'd hit the ball as well as we did," Bolen said following Saturday's opener.

Plaza Tire's offense was not nearly as stout during the second game at Capaha Field as the Panthers won 1-0 in eight innings despite Plaza Tire's Ryan Poole pitching a gem.

Capahas' Sean Bard attempts to catch the ball for an out at first base in the sixth inning against the Panthers Saturday at Capaha Park. (Elizabeth Dodd)

Poole worked seven shutout innings, allowing just two hits. He struck out two and walked two.

Crestwood scored the only run in the top of the eighth inning off Josh Parham, who suffered the loss. Crestwood had four hits and the Capahas had six hits.

The squads conclude their three-game series at 3 p.m. today with a nine-inning affair.

Plaza Tire is 9-6 as it had a four-game winning streak snapped in the nightcap. The Panthers, who have finished in the top 12 at the National Baseball Congress World Series the past seven years, are 12-5.

"They've got a really good program," said Bolen, whose squad has made 27 consecutive trips to the NBC World Series.

Capahas shortstop Kendal Deason cools down in the dugout during the fourth inning of the first game Saturday.

Plaza Tire swept last year's three-game series from Crestwood, also played in Cape Girardeau, but the Capahas lost quite a few of their key players from that unit.

In Saturday's opener, the Capahas got strong production from two players -- Dustin Hunter and Matt Carter -- who primarily are used as pitchers but were pressed into position duty.

Hunter went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs. Carter added a two-run single and walked twice.

"They gave us a lift," Bolen said.

Matt Wagner went 3-for-4 with two doubles, while Sean Bard and Garrett Stevens both had two hits, including a double.

The Capahas finished with 13 hits, five of them doubles.

"With wood bats, that's pretty good," Bolen said.

Brad LaBruyere took advantage of all that offense to improve to 4-0.

LaBruyere went five innings. He allowed six hits and two runs while striking out three and walking three.

"They're always a pretty good ballclub. You always want to face good competition," said LaBruyere of matching up against the Panthers.

The 5 p.m. start time meant LaBruyere was working in plenty of heat, but he appeared to handle it well.

"I actually thought it was hotter last weekend," said LaBruyere, who pitched eight one-hit, shutout innings the previous Saturday against the St. Louis Printers. "I didn't think it was as humid today, but it's still pretty hot."

Kirk Boeller pitched a perfect sixth inning, with two strikeouts, while Parham allowed three runs on four hits in the seventh inning.

The Capahas got an RBI single by Hunter in the second inning to go ahead 1-0, then broke open things with a five-run third. A four-run fourth made it 10-1 before the Panthers staged a late rally that came up short.

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