(May 17, 2021 – Plano, TX) Bats were once again getting it done for the Spirits (45+) last Monday night as the clouds in the Dallas area finally held off for a few hours to allow for baseball to occur in the NTABL Masters League. After three weeks of rained out games, the Spirits and the Hurricanes took to Graham Field to play some baseball and for Spirits hitters, it looked like no time was missed at all.
The Spirits offense put together 15 hits, scoring 11 runs to coast to an 11 to 1 win behind solid pitching from Earl German and Brant Finchum. German took the start and went 5 innings, allowing just 1 run (unearned) against 7 hits, walking none, and striking out 2. Finchum cleaned up the final two innings, allowing just one hit while also striking out one.
For the Spirits offense, a number of hitters took advantage of Hurricanes pitching including the 2- through 6-hole hitters. Each of them finished with at least two hits capped by a 3-for-3 performance by Shawn Lee that was a triple short of the cycle. Lee finished with a single, double, and a 3-run homerun to lead the box score. Kirk Sipila finished with a pair of doubles on the night and both David Tipton and John Holmquist also finished the night with a double.
Despite a pair of singles in the top half of the first inning by Hurricanes, the Spirits defense was able to find a way to keep the team from scoring. The Spirits then picked up 3 quick runs in the bottom half of the frame after Eric McPherson led things off with a single. McPherson tried to stretch the hit into a double and Hurricanes center fielder, Mike O’Hornett retrieved the ball from the gap and completed a pirouette and a perfect throw to second to cut McPherson down for the first out. Sipila then grounded out, but the Spirits offense went on to score with two outs after Travis Hitzeman and Lee both singled. John Hefner drew a walk to load the bases and Hitzeman was able to score on a wild pitch. With the other two runners also advancing, Tipton made it hurt with a double to the gap in deep left-center field to score both Lee and Hefner. Brian Hackney eventually flew out to end the inning with the Spirits up, 3 to 0.
The Hurricanes went scoreless in the second and the Spirits also went in order after German drew a walk with one out but was later doubled up after Finchum grounded into a double-play. As the teams headed into the the third, German remained solid as did his defense. Tim Cook singled to open the inning for the Hurricanes, but Michael Madsen grounded into a double-play. Sean Judge singled to keep the inning alive, but German was able to get Brad Petty to fly out to end the inning for the Canes. In the bottom half of the inning, the Spirits added to their lead after Holmquist doubled to lead off the bottom of the third. McPherson then reached on an error that allowed Holmquist to cross the plate. Sipila followed with a double to score McPherson after he swiped second and Hitzeman made it two on with nobody out after he wore a pitch from Hurricanes starter, Thomas Mohlner. That set the table for Lee who took Mohlner’s next pitch down the middle and sent it into orbit. Lee’s 3-run home run made it 8 to 0, Spirits and it appeared the scoring would continue after Hefner followed with a single. The Hurricanes then turned to veteran pitcher, Hunter Roberts to stop the bleeding. It seemed the move worked as Tipton lined out to the shortstop and the Hurricanes were able to double-up Hefner leading off the bag. Roberts was then able to get Hackney swinging, but the damage was done by the Spirits 5-run inning.
The Hurricanes rallied for a run in the fourth on a sacrifice fly from Franklin Mantilla that scored O’Hornett and the game remained quiet until the fifth when the Spirits added 3 more. Sipila led off with a one-out double and scored on a single from Hitzeman. Hitzeman then moved to third on a double to the left-center field gap by Lee and moment later he scored on an RBI single by Hefner. Hefner swiped second to put both runners in scoring position and a single by Tipton scored Lee to make it 11 to 1, Spirits. Hackney followed with a single to load the bags, but Roberts was able to get Patrick Bilgere to ground into a double-play to end the inning.
Finchum replaced German in the sixth and set the Hurricanes in order and after the Spirits went in order to close the sixth, Finchum made quick work of the Canes outside a single by O’Hornett to end the game.
“Solid effort by the gang tonight,” mentioned Lee after the game. “Our pitching was solid, defense played well and the offense showed that it had waited way too long to play. Glad we weren’t rusty and proud of the middle of our order tonight. Everyone played well really. Great recipe to win baseball games. Hope we can keep it up.”
The Spirits return to action next Monday night when they visit the Caddo Reds at Reverchon Park. First pitch is scheduled for 7:00PM and you can click here for schedule details.