(June 16, 2016 – Dallas, TX) It was a good old fashioned pitcher’s dual Thursday night at Jesuit College Preparatory. Fresh off their 4 to 2 victory over the Cubs, the Dallas Spirits (35+) saddled up for another game despite cramping muscles, dehydration, and complaints about the day’s scorching heat. The first game featured a temperature of 100 degrees on a turf field, however the team remained focus and ready to battle one of the leagues contenders in the form of the Dallas Orioles.
The Spirits were eager to take a look at Orioles pitcher DJ Currasco, who spent numerous seasons playing professionally including stints with Kansas City, Chicago (White Sox), Pittsburgh, Arizona, and with the New York Mets. With a big arm of their own in that of former Marlins prospect Craig Molldrem starting, the game expected great pitching and certainly delivered that very thing for both teams.
“We were pretty excited about today’s match up,” mentioned team captain Shawn Lee following the game. “A lot of us don’t have the experience some of these players do so it’s pretty exciting to play with them, around them, or against them. When you have a love for the game, it’s always awesome to see these truly gifted guys playing whether you’re a spectator or if you’re on the field. We get pretty geeked when Craig is up there, but we don’t have to face him. Tonight it was awesome and embarrassing at times to battle against DJ. Real pitchers can make some of us guys look pretty silly!”
Regardless of anyone appearing silly at the plate, the Spirits found a way to score 4 runs (3 earned), on 8 hits. In a showdown of two great pitchers, they also played great defense and found the appropriate timing to shut down the Orioles offense. Molldrem needed 91 pitches in 7 innings to shut down Orioles bats by allowing only 1 run off 3 hits, while striking out 10. Currasco added 11 strikeouts of his own during his complete game.
When asked about the hype that his team was brewing about facing another big league pitcher, Molldrem was humble and respectful. “I was aware that the Orioles are an excellent team. We are too so it’s very likely we’ll both be atop standings at the end of the year. I wanted to perform well on the mound to give our team a chance to win. Currasco is obviously a great talent but I wanted to focus on keeping runs down as well since I figured he would keep our runs down.” Molldrem did just that, showing great control of his pitches and finding the appropriate times to shut down Orioles threats.
“I felt I had good command of my fastball and slider most of the night,” continued Molldrem. “In particular, my slider was sharper than it had been the last couple outings. The Orioles are excellent hitters and and they’re great fastball hitters, so I really needed to have good breaking pitches to keep them off the fastball.”
The Spirits found themselves behind early as Jimmy Kent started off the game with a solid double. Brock Hardman grounded out advancing Kent to third and he later scored after Travis Hitzeman walked and Currasco grounded out. The Spirits however stuck back, and did so quickly by obtaining all of their runs in the bottom of the first inning. Cliff Brade singled and reached third after Brant Finchum singled. Currasco struck out Jason Bottenfield and Brade then scored on a single by Eric McPherson. Shawn Lee struck out leaving two on and two out for David Tipton who doubled to the gap scoring both Finchum and McPherson. Tipton advanced to third on a passed ball and then scored on a second passed ball during David Dillon’s at bat, giving the Spirits a 4 to 1 lead.
From there it was all about pitching. Both pitchers did their job shutting down hitters and solid defense paved the way for a Spirits victory, despite two errors that fortunately didn’t have a effect on the outcome. Jimmy Kent had a pair of hits for the Orioles and Jud Hartson added a single. Currasco was responsible for the team’s only RBI. Finchum and Lee each added a pair of singles for the Spirits, while Brade, McPherson, and Molldrem also singled. Tipton’s double was good for 2 of the team’s 4 runs. The win brings the Spirits record to 5-1 and currently a first place position in the NTABL Veterans League Standings. The team returns to action June 23 as they are hosted by the Braves, 7:00PM at Jesuit College Preparatory.