(July 24, 2017 – Plano, TX) The Dallas Spirits (45+) squad relied on a solid defensive effort and more importantly, a solid pitching performance from Kirk Sipila to even the season series at 2-2 versus the league-leading, Dallas Orioles this past Monday night. Sipila and his defense went the distance, with Kirk throwing all seven innings, allowing just one earned run on 6 hits, while walking 4 Orioles hitters and striking out 3.
The Orioles supplied their own version of solid defense as well as both teams held one another scoreless through two and a half innings of play. Despite a lead off double by center fielder, David Tipton, the Spirits weren’t able to manage another base runner until the bottom of the third when Brant Finchum drew a lead off walk. Dennis Gonzalez was then hit by a Bill Downing pitch and with runners on first and second and nobody out, third baseman, Guy Koenig followed with a single to load the bases with Spirits. Downing was able to get slugger, Brian Hackney to pop-up on the infield, but additional third baseman and team comic, Jack Nash played hero by taking the first pitch he saw to left field for an RBI single. With bases still loaded, the Orioles tightened up their defense by spinning a 6-4-3 double-play to get Tipon and to kill the rally inning.
The Orioles quickly tied things up after slugger, Jimmy Richardson doubled to opposite-field and then later scored on another opposite-field double by Peter Harrison. Despite having runners in scoring position, Sipila was able to get Dennis Sutton to ground out and the Spirits left the top-half of the fourth tied at 1 apiece.
The Spirits had an answer however, when Shawn Lee started off the bottom of the fourth with a one-hop shot to left-center that resulted in a double. Lee then scored when Patrick Bilgere slapped an 0-2 pitch to left-center for an RBI single. Bilgere was able to advance to second on the throw home and then advanced to third when Sipila singled. Eric McPherson drew a walk and with bases loaded, Chris Lewis reached on an RBI fielder’s choice, squeezing Sipila out at third and sending Bilgere home safely. Downing was able to get Mark Leemaster to also ground into a fielder’s choice and Finchum to ground out to kill the rally. After four complete, the Spirits led 3 to 1.
Koenig added a double to his dossier in the bottom of the fifth, but the Spirits were unable to find an answer to get Koenig to the plate. The Orioles made things interesting in the top half of the sixth when John Mahalik bunted against a shifted infield and outfield for a one-out single. Mahalik then advanced to third when Chris Cec singled, and the O’s loaded the bases when Jerry Gamez drew a free pass. The Spirits defense followed Sipila’s calm demeanor as he was able to strike out Richardson with a slow change during an eight-pitch at-bat. Kevin Fought followed with a fly ball to left field that could have made some noise, however Lee was able to battle the sun and corral the slow line drive for the third out to kill the rally.
Despite a free pass to Harrison to start the seventh, Sipila settled in and the defense shut down Dennis Sutton, Mark Tierny, and Chuck Difiglia to close out the victory, putting the Spirits in a virtual tie for first place at 10-3 within the NTABL Masters League Standings.
“That was a big win for our ball club tonight,” mentioned Sipila following his team’s win. “Not only did we even our season series with the Orioles, we proved to ourselves that we can compete with them. It took a total team effort tonight and we scrapped out 8 hits and worked to earn those 3 runs. Our defense made all the necessary plays when called upon, and I was able to avoid giving up a big hit during pressure situations. Next Monday we’ll get our chance at the Reds again. We’ll enjoy this win and get ready for the next contest.”
The team visits the Caddo Reds next Monday night in the late game at Graham Field in Plano. First pitch is slated for 8:45PM.
Waxahachie Autoplex Players of the Game