(July 1, 2018 – Plano, TX) The game was in reach for most of the contest, but the Spirits (18+) fell short once again in NTABL Open National League play Sunday afternoon at Pope John Paul II High School in Plano. The offense sputtered for an inning, but failed to fire once again down the stretch and the consequence was a failure to get into the win column for the seventh straight game.
The team picked up 2 runs in the third to take a 2 to 1 lead over The Dark Horse, but the Horse rallied for a run in the bottom half of the inning to tie and later picked up runs in the fifth and seventh innings to prevail by a final of, 4 to 2.
Down 1 to 0 in the top half of the second, starting pitcher Holden Novak doubled with one out and the Spirits had a runner in scoring position. John Showalter lined out to the pitcher and it appeared the Spirits would leave an egg on the scoreboard, but Kyle Redinger traded places with Novak at second with an RBI double to tie the game at one apiece. Teddy Croft made it a hat trick of doubles by replacing Redinger at second with another RBI and the Spirits led the game, 2 to 1. This, unfortunately would be all the Spirits could come up with as Dark Horse starter, Dillon Smith once again proved to be too much for the Spirits offense to handle.
Duane Aponte replaced Novak in the fifth and the The Dark Horse cut into the lead for good after Brian Kellner reached on one of five Spirits fielding errors. That was compounded by an error on the next play that allowed Kellner to score from first after Conner Tobias singled and then made his way to third on a blunder in the Spirits outfield. Zachary Zdanowics added the exclamation point on the first pitch he saw from Aponte in the seventh, belting a home run over the left-center field fence to give the game its final score.
Spirits pitching only gave up one earned run on the day as the 5 errors plagued the team in a pitcher’s duel that certainly could have gone a different direction had the defense held its own. The Spirits stranded 8 runners, compared to 9 left on by the Horse. Smith went the distance allowing 9 Spirits hits, walking one, and striking out 5. Novak pitched 5 for the Spirits, allowing no earned runs on 4 hits, walked one, and struck out 6. Aponte pitched 2 and 2/3 innings, allowing an earned run on 4 hits, and newcomer, Conner Comacho pitched an inning and third, allowing one hits while walking and striking out one. Tobias led The Dark Horse with 3 hits on the afternoon.
“Five errors in the field just isn’t going to get it done,” commented Showalter. “We show sparks of offense but it’s been so long since we put together a complete game that it’s becoming stagnant. I’m trying to find a sense of humor over it, but let’s be honest, it’s frustrating. But we’re getting closer. It may sound silly, but we’re getting better. Credit to Novak and Croft today. Both of them smoked the baseball with three hits each and Novak did his job on the hill. Croft was solid behind the dish as well. We’ve got a few additions that can help us out down the stretch and we’ll start tightening things up defensively with the best players at each position. I have faith in the guys, but that faith only goes so far. We need action and we need it from everyone on this team. Our heads are up, but we need to stick the chests out and play.”
The loss drops the team to third place with an overall record to 7-6-1 in summer play with 6 regular season games to play. The Spirits currently trail the first place Dallas Panthers (7-6-4) and The Dark Horse (7-5-3). The team will break soon for the NTABL Charity All-Star Games played at Dr. Pepper Ballpark on Sunday, July 29th. Click here to learn how you can donate to the Spirits and also enter the team’s raffle for “The Ultimate Tailgate Package” and to learn how your contribution will benefit the kids of Texas Scottish Rite Hospital.
The team hosts the first place Panthers next Sunday at 3:00PM for a chance to regain the first place slot. Click here for schedule details, to obtain directions to the ball park, or to download the iScore Central app to watch and listen to the game live, online!