(June 22, 2017 – Dallas, TX) Spirits (35+) pitching combined for 16 strikeouts, including 14 by team ace, Craig Molldrem as the team held a solid Dallas Cardinals team to a single run, earning a 5 to 1 victory Thursday night at Reverchon Park in Uptown, Dallas. Molldrem delivered 6 solid innings of pitching, giving up one earned run on 5 hits. Travis Hitzeman closed the game’s final inning with two strikeouts of his own to seal the win and picked up his first save in a Dallas Spirits uniform.
The Cardinals seemed to show no concern for Molldrem’s command as lead off hitter, Kevin Fought singled to start off the game. Molldrem struck out Joe Lowry to earn the first out of the inning and Cardinals shortstop, Jerry Gamez was ready to take on Molldrem next. Gamez eventually singled on a 1-1 pitch, however prior to making some noise offensively, Molldrem was able to catch Fought leaning at first base, and the pick-off attempt to first went down as 1-3-6 in the books as the team was able to tag Fought out. With one on and two out, Molldrem was able to challenge and strike out Cardinals slugger, Philip Bosco to end the inning.
The Spirits offense also started quickly as Cliff Brade singled to begin the team’s half of the inning. He quickly stole second and reached third after tagging on a fly out to right by first baseman, Kirk Sipila. Hitzeman was able to reach on a Cardinals error, and Brade then scored on a passed ball to give the Spirits a 1 to 0 lead. Molldrem drew a walk to keep things going for the Spirits, however Matt Penk was able to get Chris Lewis to ground into a 6-4-3 double-play to end the rally.
The Spirits picked up a second run in the bottom half of the second after Molldrem picked up another pair of strikeouts in the top half of the inning. Brant Finchum lined a one out double to center field and later scored on a single by David Tipton. Following three more Molldrem strikeouts in the third, the ghosts added another pair of runs in the bottom half of the inning when Brade picked up his second single and stolen base of the game, and later scored when Sipila laced a 1-1 pitch down the left field line for a double. Hitzeman followed with a single to push Sipila to third, and Molldrem followed with another single to score Sipila. Things appeared to be going great for the Spirits offense after Lewis singled to load the bases for catcher, Patrick Bilgere. Poised to add additional numbers to the big inning, Bilgere hit the hardest ball of the night, unfortunately directly into the glove of the Cardinals third baseman. Despite being out before he left the batter’s box, Bilgere and company added a pair of runs to increase the team’s lead to, 4 to 0.
The Cardinals rallied for a pair of base runners after Gamez reached on an error and Bosco was hit by pitch. The Spirits defense held its own after Molldrem was able to get Guy Koenig to ground out and then followed up by striking out Michael Anderson looking. Penk was also able to hold the Spirits to an egg in the bottom half of the inning, despite a double from third baseman, John Showalter. Showalter’s shot was deep enough to one-hop the center field fence, but Penk was able to get Tipton to fly out and Earl German to ground out to end the fourth at the same score.
The Cardinals rallied for a run in the fifth after Jason Gutierrez singled up the middle and advanced on a passed ball. Darrell Thompson then reached after being hit by pitch and with runners on first and second with one out, Molldrem struck out Juan Mollinedo and it appeared the Spirits would get out of the inning. Gutierrez was able to take third on another passed ball and then scored when another ball from Molldrem got passed Bilgere at home. Mark Tierny lined out to end the inning and after four and half complete, the Spirits led 4 to 1. The Spirits went on to make it 5 to 1 after Sipila singled to pick up his second hit on the night, later scoring on another single by Lewis. From that point forward, Molldrem allowed a pair of hits and then struck out the side before Hitzeman came in to close and seal the victory.
“Craig had an outstanding night for us,” commented team manger, Shawn Lee following the game who was out due to a hamstring injury. “He seems to step it up a notch in bigger games, and we were aware of the talent on the Cardinals, especially their hitting. You combine a night like this when his command is spot on, alongside some clutch hitting and you have a great recipe for winning. Credit to the Cards though. They’ve got some solid pitching and they were missing a guy or two that could have made this game much closer. But we’ll take the win and we’ll stay focused on the season moving forward.”
Focused is something the squad will definitely need to keep in mind as they move into next week’s game. The squad returns to Graham Field next Thursday night as they host Modoc. Modoc came from behind to steal one from the Spirits back on May 18, picking up 3 runs in the bottom of the seventh to walk off with a 3 to 2 victory. First pitch is slated for 8:45PM.