Caps receive bid to NBC World Series

Thursday, July 25, 2002

The Cape Girardeau Craftsman Union Capahas will extend their lengthy string of National Baseball Congress World Series appearances after all.

Capahas manager Jess Bolen was notified Wednesday that his squad had received an at-large bid to the prestigious amateur baseball tournament that begins Sunday in Wichita, Kan.

The Capahas will play the Austin (Texas) Gold Sox at 1 p.m. Monday in the opening round of the 48-team, double-elimination event.

Craftsman Union (27-8) will be making its 17th consecutive World Series appearance. After the Capahas failed to win the recent NBC Mid-South Regional held in Cape Girardeau -- thus losing out on an automatic World Series berth -- Bolen didn't think they would be heading to Wichita.

But an opening apparently came up when a team from Mexico that had qualified could not raise the funds needed to participate.

"I was very pessimistic about a bid. I had talked to (NBC official) Steve Shaad during the season and he said you better win your tournament because there would be no at-large bids available," Bolen said. "But it's an expensive trip, with a $1,000 entry fee, plus the motels and travel."

Bolen said the Capahas' reputation played a big role in helping them land the last available berth. The Caps have had 11 top-10 World Series finishes and five times they've been in the top seven, including a fourth place and two fifth-place ties.

"He (Shaad) said our ballclub was really respected out there," Bolen said.

Bolen was a bit down Saturday after the Capahas lost to Springfield (Mo.) 3-2 to finish second in the Mid-South Regional. He was particularly bothered that the Caps' bats were so silent in the tournament as they had just 24 hits in four games.

But, energized with another World Series bid, Bolen is optimistic that the Capahas can make some noise in Wichita.

"I remember a few years ago, we went into the tournament and weren't hitting very well but then everybody picked it up and we wound up winning about four, five games. I'm hoping that will happen again," he said. "Our pitching has been good enough to keep us in about every game. And on paper, we should have a really good hitting team."

Added Bolen, "I enjoy going out there, but I'm more happy for the players. I've been out there a lot of times. But some of these young kids, I think it's really beneficial to them. And it's a good climax to your season."

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