(September 12, 2016 – Carrollton, TX) It was another beautiful September evening, a perfect field, a perfect night for baseball. Unfortunately, the Spirits (45+) were less than perfect and that appeared to be what was needed to take down the number one seeded Orioles Monday night. The Orioles were clicking on all cylinders with solid pitching, timely hitting, and great base running as they throttled the Spirits by a final of 9 to 3 at Graham Field located at Prestonwood Christian Academy.
Manager Kirk Sipila shared that he was still confident in his team’s ability to win it all. “I’m extremely proud of this group and we’ve proven we can play with anyone in the league. We’ve beaten each team in the league. If we set down the stats and come together to play how I know we can play, I’m confident we got a few ball games to win yet.”
The Spirits managed to put runners on base after a slow start, however getting them to score was another topic. The team left 11 runners on base with a few opportunities to score, however they didn’t manage to put a rally together with the exception of the third inning. The game appeared to be in hand as early as the first inning as the Orioles managed to get bases loaded when pitcher Kirk Sipila got Mike Tarter to strike out swinging. This left the pads loaded and 2 out for Don Buford. Buford then singled scoring 2 runs and sending Jerry Gamez to third. Chris Cec then doubled down the left field line to score 2 additional runs, then later scored on a single by Mark Tierney.
Spirits defense and pitching settled in for a few innings, however the offense found a slow start. That seemed to change some in the top of the fourth inning as Patrick Bilgere led off the inning after getting hit by a pitch. Brant Finchum flew out and Dennis Gonzalez reached on a fielder’s choice, forcing out Bilgere. With one on and two out, Randy Brittain walked and Tony Davis singled to load the bases. Center fielder David Tipton broke out of a slump with a solid line drive to center scoring both Gonzalez and Brittain. Shawn Lee singled hard to left to reload the bases, but Orioles pitcher Mike Wheeler was able to get Sipila to ground out to end the inning.
The Orioles added an additional run in the bottom half of the inning before the Spirits rallied again for a third run in the fifth, setting the margin at 6 to 3. The Spirits offense sputtered afterward and the Orioles put together 3 more runs in the bottom of the sixth to seal a 9 to 3 victory.
Despite a solid effort from the mound and a great hitting Orioles team, Sipila took the loss after yielding 11 hits and giving up 9 runs, 8 earned with 3 strikeouts. Defensively, the Spirits suffered with 3 errors. The loss sends the squad to the loser’s bracket and an unusual Friday night match-up as they host the Cubs at 8:45PM. The elimination game will be played at Graham Field located at Prestonwood Christian Academy.