CAPE GIRARDEAU - The New Madrid County Central Eagles baseball team sent a statement to the SEMO Conference on Tuesday with a shocking 6-5 win on the road against Cape Central.
The Eagles, competing in the conference in their first year, upset the Tigers, which were one of the favorites to win the league title after defeating preseason favorite Sikeston last month.
"It's the first time that we've seen Cape in a while," said NMCC assistant coach Arlen Pixley. "We haven't played them since I've been here. They knocked off Sikeston at the beginning of the year and were on a role and we went out and put the bat on the ball and made them play defense. We played some small ball and it worked."
The Eagles got a big game from Jake Kimball, who pitched a complete game to get the win while hitting a 3-run home run in the top of the first inning.
The Eagles (2-2, 2-2 SEMO) led 6-0 throughout most of the game until the Tigers (3-5) rallied for five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Seth Hudson had a 3-run triple and Chris Conrad had a run-scoring triple during the rally.
"We were six outs away from winning a ballgame and they found a way to get back into the game -- good teams do that," said Pixley. "We really showed some character after the Jackson game on Friday."
Kimball came back in the bottom of the seventh inning to retire the side, ending the game on a double play off a botched bunt attempt.
"He had a great game today," said Pixley. "He was quiet and didn't say anything. He was zoned in. He stepped up and pitched a great game. It was a huge home run. You go in against a team like Cape and get the big 3-run blast on a 3-2 count is just huge for us. His homer really boosted us and gave him some confidence on the hill."
The Eagles pushed the lead to 5-0 in the third inning on run-scoring singles by Scott Allen and Ben Pyles. Allen added another RBI-single in the fifth inning.
Kimball allowed five hits and five runs (three earned). He struck out nine and walked four.
Hudson led the Tigers with three hits.
NMCC was led by Kimball (2-2, 2 BB, HR, 3 RBIs), Pyles (2-4, RBI), Allen (2-5, 2 RBIs) and Matt Snider (2-3).
NMCC played without the presence of head coach John Jones, who was out of town attending a family funeral.
"The bunch came out inspired to play for Coach Jones," said Pixley. "There wasn't a word said on the bus on the way up. They were focused and wanted to beat Cape."
NMCC will play at Kennett next Tuesday at 4 p.m.