CAPE GIRARDEAU -- An old baseball adage states "good pitching beats good hitting."
And so it was as New Madrid County Central, a potent offensive club, had its bats quieted by Cape Central ace Brad LaBruyere in a 10-2 SEMO Conference loss on Tuesday.
LaBruyere held the Eagles to four hits, their lowest total of the season.
"Cape is a good ballclub and LaBruyere is going to go a long way in this game," said NMCC coach John Jones. "He's got such command of his pitches. His fastball, off-speed, changeup all look the same."
Coming in atop the SEMO Conference standings, the Eagles fell behind early and never posed a serious threat to the Tigers.
As a result, Cape Central (11-4, 6-1) pulled into a tie with NMCC (5-2, 3-1) for first place in the conference.
"We could have come in and solidified our position at the top, but we're still at the top," said Jones. "You're going to have days like this. I'm not going to get down after one bad game. These kids will bounce back."
An anticipated pitching duel between LaBruyere and NMCC ace Jordan Kimball, victimized by shaky defensive support, never materialized.
An error on the first play of the game -- one of three in the inning and seven on the day for NMCC -- opened the door to a four-run first inning for the Tigers, a lead they never relinquished.
"They came out and executed and we kicked the ball around," said Jones. "You can not give Cape seven errors and expect to win a ballgame."
Still trailing 4-0 in the top of the fourth, catcher Andy Gantner, the only Eagle to have reached base with a first-inning single, was hit by a pitch. Thomas Higgerson followed with a double into the gap in left-center field putting runners at second and third with no outs.
Pinch running for Gantner, Sean Buck scampered home on a wild pitch while Higgerson advanced to third. Trey Sullenger's slicing single to right field plated Higgerson to cut the lead to 4-2.
Cape came right back with three runs in the bottom of the frame to widen the gap to 7-2.
In the fifth, NMCC mounted a mild threat. Kimball stroked a one-out single to right field, then advanced to third on a Tiger error on Gantner's groundball.
But LaBruyere buckled down to set the Eagles down in order the rest of the way, retiring the last eight batters he faced.
Cape tacked on three more runs in the sixth to close out the scoring at 10-2.
Kimball took the loss in a complete-game effort. He was charged with 10 runs -- six unearned -- on nine hits with four strikeouts and three walks.
An inability to control the top of the Tigers' batting order proved especially damaging. They combined for six hits, knocked in three runs and scored eight runs.
No. 2-hole hitter Blake Slattery paced the Tiger offense with three hits in four trips, two RBIs and three runs scored, leadoff man Matt Hester went 2-for-4 with three runs and third-place hitter Ty Craft went 1-for-3 with a RBI and two runs.
"Those guys have been swinging the bats really well," said Cape Central coach Steve Williams. "They've hit when we don't have guys on base, and when we have guys on they're driving them in."
LaBruyere yielded two runs, one earned, on four hits with eight strikeouts, no walks and two hit batsmen.
"It was just a bad day for us and, hopefully, we've got it out of our system," Jones said. "We'll regroup and get back after it Friday night."
The Eagles face Shawnee (Ill.) on Friday at 8 p.m. in the Red Devil Classic at Chaffee, then meet a to-be-determined opponent on Saturday at 11:45 a.m.
Next week will be busy for NMCC with a conference matchup at Notre Dame on Monday, another conference game at home against Poplar Bluff on Tuesday, then a home game with Dexter on Wednesday.