(May 1, 2017 – Carrollton, TX) The Spirits (45+) squad saw its hot start to their 2017 NTABL Masters League campaign run into a hurdle this past Monday night at McInnish Park, Field #11 in Carrollton. Despite a previous 2 to 1 victory over the club earlier in the season, that hurdle came in the form of the Dallas Orioles.
The Orioles used 8 hits to score 9 runs, alongside 6 free passes to first base as their defense and pitching shut down the Spirits bats, limiting the club to 5 hits as the Orioles coasted to a 9 to 2 victory. Orioles pitching combined to strike out 8 Spirits hitters, including 5 from fire-baller, Sean House, who pitched 3 innings and allowed only 1 hit and 1 walk.
Jerry Gamez and Will Nash led the Orioles, combining for 3 hits, 2 runs scored, and 5 RBI. Spirits pitcher, Earl German, who’s been a significant cog in the Spirits machine thus far in 2017 struggled a bit with control as he nursed a calf injury while pushing through 3 innings of work. He allowed 6 hits, 7 runs, only 3 of which were earned, walked 4 and struck out none. Old Reliable, John Holmquist finished the final three innings for the ghouls, allowing only 2 hits but giving up another 2 runs, one earned, while walking 2.
Spirits center fielder, David Tipton appeared focused however. Tipton scored one of the two Spirits runs and accounted for batting in the other. He provided some additional spark defensively by throwing out 2, and likely what appeared to be 3 runners during the game. In the bottom of the second inning with one out and Nash on third for the Orioles who held a 6 to 1 lead at that point following a 5-run inning, Philip Bosco flew out to Tipton in center. Nash tagged hoping to complete the sacrifice fly, however Tipton fired a dart to home plate to get Nash out easily, thus completing the double-play and end to the rally. Later in the game, Tipton made a play on a soft looping single that left Chuck Difiglia in no-man’s-land. Difiglia made his attempt for second after seeing the ball hit turf, however the field umpire called him safe after Tipton’s rocket to second was called late.
“That was a heck of a play by Tipton,” commented club manger, Shawn Lee. “We thought he got Chuck at second, and in fact, I think Chuck even agreed. It was a great throw, but the ump saw it differently. David got revenge a minute later, so that helped calm the fire.” The revenge Lee referred to came in the form of another throw out by Tipton. With two on and one out, Nash sent a ball to short center field. Tipton charged the ball, quickly picking it up and fired to third to easily tag out Chris Allen and to save what would have been another run. Nash was able to make his way to third following a fly out and a wild pitch, and later scored when Chris Cec reach on one of three recorded Spirits errors.
“It just wasn’t our night,” continued Lee following the contest. “We didn’t get Sip (Kirk Sipila) until the game was nearly over and we really didn’t seem terribly focused to play. Kirk’s bat always helps and if you change a few of the little mistakes, perhaps momentum goes our way. Normally, I’d expect us to be a little fired up to play a league power like the Orioles, but our guys didn’t seem to have it tonight. We had 3 errors in the field, juggled a handful of easy plays that cost us bases and runs, and really didn’t put anything together offensively. Credit the birds for being solid. They’re a great team and they can hit. If you don’t show up ready to throw the first punch against this team, you can pretty much expect to walk away with a loss. We’ll be okay. Hopefully this will bring some focus the next time we face them and more importantly, we find some hunger to get back at it. I have full confidence we’ll dust this one off and we’ll rebound.”
The team returns to action next Monday night at they host the DFW Hurricanes at Graham Field, located on the grounds of Prestonwood Christian Academy in Plano. First pitch is slated for 6:30PM.