Late start means cooler temps for Capahas at NBC World Series

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Plaza Tire Capahas will burn the midnight oil for their second game at the 78th annual National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, Kan.

That's fine with manager Jess Bolen, who is glad to escape some of the heat and humidity that squads always face during the 32-team, double-elimination event.

The Capahas play the El Dorado (Kan.) Broncos, one of the perennial tournament powers, at 10 p.m. today in a winners bracket matchup.

"It's the best time to play," Bolen said. "Darkness will have set in and it's the coolest time of the day."

The Capahas (26-7) endured 107-degree heat Monday to win their tournament opener, a 1-0 thriller over the Topeka (Kan.) Golden Giants behind the mound work of Zack Smith.

Smith, who pitches for Southeast Missouri State, continued his impressive summer with his fourth nine-inning complete game as he raised his record to 6-0.

Smith fired a three-hitter, striking out seven and walking two while throwing 107 pitches. He faced only four batters over the minimum thanks in part to a pair of double plays the Capahas turned.

"He was just tremendous. You can't say enough about him," said Bolen, the Capahas' 46th-year manager whose club is making its 31st consecutive appearance at the NBC World Series that features some of the nation's top amateur baseball teams. "To give that kind of performance in that heat was amazing. He's had some great games for us this year, but I think that was his best."

The Capahas had just two hits, neither of which figured into the scoring. They got their only run in the seventh inning as Jason Blum drew a leadoff walk, moved to second on a wild pitch, advanced to third on Kody Campbell's ground out and came home on a passed ball.

"Their pitchers were really good, but I know we're going to have to hit the ball a lot better," Bolen said.

Especially against a traditionally strong El Dorado team that pounded the Katy (Texas) Collegians 14-2 in its opening game.

The Broncos have won five NBC World Series titles, most recently in 2009. They compete in the rugged Jayhawk League.

"Everybody knows how good they are," Bolen said. "But if you get good pitching like we did the other night, you can beat anybody."

Dustin Hunter, who completed a strong career at Western Illinois University this year, will start on the mound for the Capahas.

"He's a very good pitcher, and I feel good about giving him the ball," said Bolen, whose squad had been 1-6 in its previous three trips to Wichita. "I think he'll give us a chance."

If the Capahas win today, they'll play in the tournament quarterfinals Saturday. If they lose today, they'll face an elimination game Friday.

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