(June 16, 2016 – Dallas, TX) The Dallas Spirits (35+) found just enough offense to seal a win over the Cubs Thursday night by a mark of 4 to 2 in the first of two games slated at Jesuit College Preparatory. P Jonathan Duran needed just 91 pitches as he shut down Cubs hitting by striking out 5 and only allowing 2 earned runs on 5 hits in a complete game victory.
The Cubs made it interesting early however, taking a 2 to 0 lead in the second inning. Todd Arnold drew a walk to lead off the inning, stole second, and then later advanced to third on a deep fly by Ron Piacenti. Brad Leveridge was struck out by Duran, but Roger Battani singled scoring Arnold to give the Cubs the early 1 to 0 lead. Todd Murrah then singled scoring Battani, who had taken second on the throw to home on the previous play. Murrah then easily took second base and the Spirits noticed an issue with their catcher, Chris Lewis. In two tries, Lewis’ throws to second hit the pitcher’s mound. After being looked at following the inning, the Spirits found that Lewis’ tendinitis in this throwing arm had acted up. Lewis went on to finish the game as a DH, but newcomer Tom Miller replaced him behind the plate.
“It got interesting quick,” mentioned coach Shawn Lee. “I figured on the first throw Chris must have lost his footing, however when the second guy took off and the ball hit the mound on it’s way to second, I knew something was up. I chatted with Chris following the inning and he mentioned he was in a lot of pain. He felt he could still swing the bat and remained in as a hitter, but Tommy (Miller) was ready to jump in so we felt good defensively.”
The Spirits played well defensively, but the offense was lethargic to start the game. Fortunately after stranding one runner who reached base in the second, the Spirits bats came alive enough to find a lead in the third. With two outs in the bottom of the third, Miller struck out but reached first on a passed ball and dropped third strike. Cliff Brade was hit by a pitch and Brant Finchum stayed hot by singling and loading the bases for Jason Bottenfield. Bottenfield singled, scoring Miller. Eric McPherson then battled and took a 2-out, 3-2 pitch to left-center for a single scoring Brade and Finchum and giving the Spirits a 3 to 2 lead.
“Eric’s having an all-star season,” noted Lee. “Finchum’s been hot and the guys stayed focused with 2 outs and we put together an inning. There’s been a lot of games like this where we seem to get that feeling of doubt, but not today. I’m proud of the guys for keeping their minds set on winning.”
Duran and company did in fact remain focused, as the team shut down any additional Cubs threats from that point forward. Bottenfield added a second hit to his scorecard in the bottom of the sixth and later scored on a single by Lee to add some insurance. The team held up for a short rest in the scorching temperatures before prepping for game two of the league’s scheduled double-header against the Dallas Orioles.