(March 24, 2021 – Carrollton, TX) The Spirits (40+) squad was running on all cylinders Wednesday night as the team put together a 14 hit attack that included an 8-run fourth inning. Eric McPherson finished with 3 hits on the night, and Kirk Sipila, Travis Hitzeman, and Shawn Lee each added two hits each as the squad rolled the Cubs by a score of 16 to 4.
The Spirits went quietly in the first inning despite a single and a stolen base from McPherson and following a single and scoreless inning by the Cubs in the bottom half of the inning, the game remained scoreless after the first frame.
Hitzeman and Lee both reached on errors in the second, but the Spirits again failed to score after Aaron Wilson drew a walk to load the bases with nobody out. Brant Finchum went down swinging and Eddie Paschall flew out before Earl German went down on swings leaving the three runners stranded.
The Cubs then took a 1 to 0 lead in the bottom of the second when the Cubs lead-off hitter reached on a single. Bobby Owens made it two on with nobody out after reaching on a catcher’s interference call and a single by Heath Baker loaded the bases full of Cubs. Pete Dwyer flew out and Worth Chollar followed with a perfectly-laid suicide bunt that scored Berget. The Spirits saved face however after getting Brian Dawson to ground out to end the inning.
Facing a 1 to 0 deficit, the Spirits were still looking to fire up the offense but only mustered up a single by Shawn Hunt and again failed to score. The Cubs added a base runner in the third as well, but Spirits starting pitcher, Jonathan Duran was then able to an out from a fielder’s choice before striking out the next two Cubs hitters.
That’s when the Spirits offense found its spark. Cubs starter, Steve Kline was showing solid control most of the game and held Spirits hitters off balance but something in the fourth inning ignited for the ghosts and wholesale hits and runs followed. McPherson once again led things off with a single and he was able to advance when Sipila grounded out. Hitzeman followed with a triple, deep to the left-center field gap to score McPherson and the game was tied. One pitch later, Lee doubled to the same gap to score Hitzeman and the Spirits were up, 2 to 1. Wilson drew another walk and it appeared the offense may once again stall after Finchum flew out, but Paschall came through with a single to score Lee and to push Wilson to second. Another single, this time from German scored Wilson and Stacy Scott loaded the bases after reaching on a base-on-balls. David Tipton then doubled to score both Paschall and German and Hunt kept the inning going after drawing another walk off of Kline. Eric Goetz then reached safely on an error by the Cubs shortstop that allowed both Scott and Tipton to score and it was 8 to 1, Spirits before McPherson took a second turn at hitting during the inning and flew out to stop the bleeding.
The Cubs rallied for a pair of runs in the bottom half of the inning to cut the lead to, 8 to 3 after a leadoff single and a walk, followed by a double by Kline. Berget followed with another single to score Kline before Duran was able to get a pair of ground outs to get out of the inning.
The Cubs turned to Randall Dick to pitch in the fifth and Sipila led the Spirits part of the inning with a single. After Hitzeman drew a walk, Lee picked up his second RBI double on the night to give the Spirits a 9 to 3 lead. The Cubs were silent in the bottom half and in the sixth, it was 7 more runs for the Spirits offense. German drew a walk to lead off the sixth and advanced to third on a single by Scott. Tipton went down looking, but Hunt drew a walk to load the bags and Goetz earned an easy but painful RBI after being hit by a pitch. McPherson singled to score German and a follow up single by Sipila scored both Hunt and Goetz. Hitzeman singled home McPherson and Lee reached on an error good to score Sipila. Wilson reached on a fielder’s choice that squeezed Lee at second, but Hitzeman was able to score before Finchum went down swinging. After the dust settled, the Spirits had a 16 to 3 lead.
Battling storms moving into the area, the squads took the field and were doused by rain. Duran held his own and struck out Don Buford to start off the inning and after Dick reached on a Spirits fielding error, Duran was able to get Rick Rosales to fly out. The next Cubs hitter singled to push Dick to third and a follow up single by Kline scored Dick. With the score now 16 to 4, Duran added an exclamation point to his complete (shortened) game victory by striking out Berget. The game was called due to the league’s two-hour time limit. Duran finished the evening allowing 3 earned on 9 hits, while walking 2 and striking out 6.
“Great effort tonight despite a slow start,” Lee commented as the two teams raced to their vehicle to avoid the incoming rains. “I’ve learned to be patient with our guys, self included. Normally I’m ready for high octane when I get there, but we’re all different and we get going at different times. Most times, being patient pays off and tonight that showed. Bats just come around and sometimes the hitting gets infectious. Duran was solid on the mound all night and the top half of the order really gave us a boost. Glad we got this one in and credit to the umpires for letting us play it out. I feel like we’re just starting to click for this season and I’m looking forward to see what we can put together.”
The squad will return to action next Wednesday night when they visit the Rangers at Texas Star, Arlington Field in Euless. First pitch is slated for 6:30PM and you can click here for schedule details or to download the iScore Central app to listen to Spirits games live online.