CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - Three Rivers coach Stacey Burkey earned his 600th win Sunday at Capaha Field in Cape Girardeau, Mo.
The Raiders finished their weekend set of three games with an 8-0 win over North Central (3-4), which was dropped from Region XVI this season after moving down to Division II.
"It's a nice number for a program. It's a nice accomplishment. Just really trying to focus on the season and get these guys better all the time," Burkey said. "For the most part, we've been playing pretty good but Sunday was probably the best game we've played this year."
This is Burkey's 27th year as head coach of the Raiders and 33rd year with the program.
In a doubleheader against North Central on Saturday, Three Rivers (7-2) split, losing the opener 3-1 and winning the nightcap 10-5.
Noah Stone (2-0) had 11 strikeouts with two hits and two walks over six innings to get Burkey his 600th win.
"He just dominated, he really did," Burkey said. "Best we've seen him pitch since he's been here."
Austin Brock had three strikeouts with a hit and a walk in the seventh inning as the Raiders run-ruled North Central in what was scheduled to be a nine-inning game.
Stone struck out the first have batters of the game and seven of the first nine. He carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning when North Central leadoff hitter Braedyn Brewer singled. Logan Eickhoff singled with one out and the two moved into scoring position on a passed ball, but Stone kept the shutout going with a popup to second and then his 11th strikeout to end the inning.
Stone developed a blood blister on his pitching hand as the game went on, but stayed effective while using his slider more and his curve ball less.
Stone was slowed getting ready for the spring season after getting mononucleosis during the winter.
"He's been working hard to get back physically. He really stepped up big and had a great game for us," Burkey said.
The bottom of the Raider lineup scored four runs in the second inning.
The top of the lineup continued to be productive and powerful for the Raiders. The first four batters - Alex Cauley, Roberto Mejia, Nick Fakouri and Christopher Vervoordt, were 6 for 16 with four runs and four RBIs. Mejia and Fakouri both had two hits and Mejia finished with three of the team's seven RBIs.
Cauley's lone hit was a triple while Mejia and Vervoordt both homered.
Fakouri, Kolten Poorman and Clayton all had home runs on Saturday to give the Raiders 10 home runs as a team through nine games. The first four batters in the lineup all have two home runs and are slugging at least .640.
"That's certainly nice to see at the top of the lineup," Burkey said.
Kieren Hall (1-1) pitched a complete game in Saturday's loss and allowed five hits and no walks with eight strikeouts. Hall leads the Raiders so far with 13.1 innings and a 1.35 ERA.
"He's been real efficient. He's kept his pitch count down real well," Burkey said.
Three Rivers was leading 1-0 heading into the sixth inning thanks to Clayton's solo home run.
North Central's Ale Clato doubled in Genesis Nunez, who reached on an error by Clayton, to tie the game.
Then in the seventh, Hall gave up back-to-back doubles, and then a single to Nunez, as North Central went ahead 3-1 and then retired the side in the bottom of the seventh.
"Take away two pitches there and he very easily could have thrown a shutout," Burkey said.
The Raiders had three hits in the game and drew four walks.
They then turned around and got 11 hits and eight walks to win the nightcap.
Fakouri had a 3-run home run as part of a five-run fourth inning and Poorman hit a solo home run in the third.
Cauley, Vervoordt and Campbell all had doubles. Cauley, Vervoordt, Poorman and Campbell each got two hits Fakouri led the team with three RBIs.
The Raiders led 8-0 after four innings after a strong outing from Chad Donze (2-0).
He allowed one hit over four innings with three strikeouts and three walks.
Poplar Bluff alum Sam Pierce pitched two innings and allowed five hits, a walk and three runs with one strikeout. Dawson Treat pitched the seventh and allowed three hits, two runs and two walks with two strikeouts.
The Raiders are next scheduled to play three games at Georgia Highlands on Saturday and Sunday and will have their home opener at noon, Feb. 26 against Southwestern Illinois.
Scott Borkgren - Daily American Republic