There have been some close games and some blowouts in the Cape Girardeau baseball rivalry between the Plaza Tire Capahas and Riverdogs, but one thing has remained constant.
The tradition-rich Capahas never lose to the upstart Riverdogs.
That trend continued on a steamy Sunday afternoon at Capaha Field, as Plaza Tire used a seven-run sixth inning as the springboard for a 10-0 romp. The contest was stopped in the bottom of the eighth inning on the 10-run mercy rule.
The Capahas, who were founded in 1894 and have made 23 consecutive appearances in the prestigious National Baseball Congress World Series, finished off a perfect season-opening weekend with a 4-0 record.
The Riverdogs (1-4), in only their seventh season of play, have yet to post a winning record. They fell to 0-15 against the Capahas but will get at least three more chances this year, including Friday night.
"It's always nice to beat the other Cape team," said the Capahas' Tom Bolen, who had three hits. "They play hard, and they played us tough for five innings."
Plaza Tire led just 1-0 before exploding in the sixth inning.
"It was a good game for five innings," Riverdogs co-manager Robin Minner said. "The Capahas are always tough."
The statistics were about as lopsided as the final score, with the Capahas banging out 16 hits -- including three doubles and a triple -- while limiting the Riverdogs to only one hit and just three base runners.
Capahas' manager Jess Bolen, whose squad used wood bats for an entire game for the first time this year, was not surprised his offense had just five hits through five innings.
"I thought we'd be a little slow, using wood totally for the first time," said Bolen, whose team hits with wood much of the season, including in the regional and national tournaments.
The Riverdogs also used wood exclusively -- as is always the case when the squads meet -- and Ryan Forsyth sure didn't mind.
Forsyth, who recently completed his career at Southeast Missouri State, dominated the Riverdogs in his first appearance for the Capahas. The right-hander allowed one hit -- a bunt single by Chris Conrad in the fourth inning -- while striking out 10 and walking none in seven innings.
Forsyth faced just 23 batters -- two over the minimum -- with one Riverdogs batter reaching on an error.
"It's a lot different with wood," said a smiling Forsyth, who faced nothing but metal bats the last three years pitching with the Redhawks. "We've got a pretty good defense, so I didn't have too much to worry about."
Forsyth, a native of Oklahoma, didn't originally plan to play for the Capahas but he attended Friday's season opener and talked to Bolen, who just happened to be looking for some additional pitching.
"I was just hanging around Cape for a couple of weeks," Forsyth said. "I talked to Jess, he told me they needed a pitcher, and that I'd be starting [Sunday]. I really like the team. and I'm pretty sure I'll stay here all summer."
Said Bolen: "Ryan is a good addition to our staff. I thought he threw great. He kept the ball down and got the breaking ball over."
Another solid addition to the pitching staff, according to Bolen, is Lanson Debrock. The right-hander, a former star at Notre Dame High School and Southeast, used to be one of Bolen's top hurlers, but he hasn't played for the Capahas in a few years.
Debrock recently decided to come out of "retirement" and he worked the eighth inning Sunday, striking out two and hitting a batter to account for the Riverdogs' third and final baserunner.
"I wanted to get Lanson an inning," Bolen said. "Once he gets his arm in shape, I think he'll really help us. He can pitch."
Tom Bolen went 3-for-5 and drove in two runs, while Seth Hudson went 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs.
Adding two hits apiece for the Capahas were Lance Seasor, Levi Olson and Josh Ford.
Steve Fowler, the Riverdogs' starter, kept the Capahas at bay for a while as the game was scoreless through four innings before Plaza Tire pushed across a run in the fifth.
The Capahas then broke things open with their seven-run sixth -- they had seven hits -- and ended the contest with two more runs in the eighth. Fowler allowed five runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings.
"Steve always throws well," Minner said. "He just ran out of gas."