(June 27, 2019 – Plano, TX) Hits were available and in full abundance Thursday night as the Spirits (35+) squad returned to the friendly confines of Graham Field at Prestonwood Christian Academy. The Spirits hosted the Dallas Royals for the early game in NTABL Veterans League action and the offense put on a show with 13 hits to cruise to a 9 to 0 win.
Offense wasn’t the only headline on Thursday night, however as Kirk Sipila was a in solid form as the Spirits starting pitcher. The submariner tossed five scoreless innings that included one hit, one free pass to first and six strikeouts. Earl German provided an inning of mop-up duty that also included a pair of strikeouts and the two veteran pitchers combined for a complete-game shutout with one hit on the record. Sipila was in line for a no-hit bid until the fourth inning when Royals pitcher, Ron Glenn slapped a lazy fly ball to short right field. Shawn Lee, playing second base gave hard chase to the ball that was being pushed back from the wind blowing in from right field and his footsteps scared off right fielder, Grant Martin and the ball dropped between the two to give the Royals their only hit of the game.
The Spirits picked up two runs quickly to start off the bottom half of the first inning when Cliff Brade drew a lead off walk and then stole second. Eric McPherson singled and Sipila followed with a single to load the bases. Patrick Bilgere followed with a single to score both Brade and McPherson and to record one of his three hits on the night and the Spirits led the game 2 to 0.
The team added another run in the second after Brant Finchum singled and stole second and third. Jonathan Duran reached on a Royals fielding error and that was good enough to score Finchum and give the ghosts a 3 to 0 lead.
The Spirits tacked on 3 more runs in the third after Bilgere singled and stole second. Eric Goetz reached on an error and both runners advanced and Bilgere then scored on a pair of wild pitches. Goetz reached the dish after German grounded out and the Spirits went on to add their sixth run after David Tipton singled and stole second and Finchum drew a walk. Tipton stole third and would later score on a passed ball during Duran’s at-bat, which resulted in a fly out.
Three was the magic number for the squad as they added runs 7, 8 and 9 in the fifth inning after Sipila led off with a single and stole second. Bilgere followed with a single to advance Sipila and he stole second to put both runners in scoring position. Sipila scored after Lee grounded out and after Bilgere swiped third, he scored on a sacrifice fly by Goetz. German followed with a two-out single and an RBI double to the left field warning track by Tipton scored German to give the Spirits their final score.
“We looked solid tonight and that’s the type of baseball we’re going to have to play if we want to challenge some of the better teams in this league,” Lee commented after the game. “Great job of hitting tonight and better job of base running. But Sipila and German were sharp and that helped us put together a full game of baseball on both sides of the dish.”
The team will return to action on Monday night as they visit the Dodgers once again at Graham Field. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30PM and you can click here for additional schedule details and driving directions.