(May 8, 2017 – Plano, TX) The Dallas Spirits (45+) squad is only a third of the way into its summer season and perennial All-Star, Kirk Sipila sees no need to wait until mid-season or the All-Star break to let everyone know he’s here to play. The Hurricanes Baseball Club had the opportunity to witness that first hand on Monday night at Graham Field on the grounds of Prestonwood Christian Academy as the two friendly foes faced one another in NTABL Masters League play.
Sipila went the distance, shutting down the Hurricanes offense and limiting the team to 5 hits and 1 run scored as the Spirits used a big third inning to coast to a 7 to 1 victory. Sipila walked 1 and struck out 7 others on his way to the complete-game victory. “Sip was on fire tonight,” commented club manager, Shawn Lee following the game. “You can expect him to bring his best and frankly, it’s pretty natural for him each game he plays. He’s humble, but he brings his best to each plate appearance, and tonight, we got some of his good stuff on the mound, too.”
Sipila managed his way around a Hurricanes offense very capable of big things. Back on April 10, the ‘Canes shut down the Dallas Bulls after putting up 22 runs on their way to a 22 to 3 victory, and a just a week ago they were able to put up double-digits again as they shut down the Cubs by a final of 10 to 1. “He and Pat (Bilgere) worked really well together tonight,” continued Lee. “I was able to get a few innings at short tonight due to our injured players and it was fun watching Pat and Sip communicate between the pitches and work the dish and each hitter. They reminded me of the sniper teams that work together with one guy calling the shots and the other actually firing the shots.” On his way to shutting down Hurricanes hitters, Sipila fired 92 pitches; 71 of which were strikes compared to just 21 balls thrown.
Regarding their looming injury bug and growing list of inactives, the Spirits saw veteran shortstop and utility man, Brant Finchum go down in the second inning. Finchum has been nursing a sore hamstring and it appeared the injury resurfaced as he charged a short fly ball in center field that fell into the glove of a diving David Tipton just behind second base. A half inning later, the Spirits saw third baseman, Guy Koenig injure his shoulder diving back to first on a pick-off attempt. The two game injuries, combined with the defensive loss of Eric McPherson as he comes back from shoulder surgery and a calf injury to pitcher and slugger, Earl German left some room for the Spirits to change positions. Right fielder, Dennis Gonzalez moved to left field, while regular starting pitcher, John Holmquist made his way to both the outfield and first base. Lee, who typically starts in left field covered at shortstop, and second baseman, Jack Nash moved over to third. They may have appeared to be bandages, however the defense held its own in support of Sipila’s work from the mound and the team thrived.
The Spirits started their scoring quickly in the bottom of the first as Lee beat out an infield single and later stole second. Bilgere flew out and Koenig reached on a Hurricanes error. Sipila followed up with a soft liner to left and Lee was able to score from second to give the ghouls an early 1 to 0 lead. Later in the third inning, Tipton started off the Spirits half of the inning with a single and the moved to third after swiping second and some assistance by a Gonzelez single. Gonzalez stole second and Tipon later scored on a fielder’s choice. Gonzalez then scored when second baseman, Mark Leemaster reached on another Hurricanes error. He advanced to third after stealing second when Lee picked up his second hit on the evening. Lee later stole second for the second time in the game, and Leemaster scored after Bilgere reached on an error. With two outs and runners on second and third, Sipila again played hero with a single up the middle to score Lee. The Spirits picked up and additional two runs in the sixth to cap the 7 to 1 victory.
“I was really proud of the guys for stepping up and playing different positions,” commented Sipila following the game. “Shawn filled in well at shortstop and made a few nice plays, Holmquist did great coming off the bench to not only to make a few plate appearances, but he also covered some outfield and played some solid first base. It’s easy to pitch when you trust your defense. Mark made a heck of a catch for us there in the sixth to end the inning when they had bases loaded. That was huge. The guys made some great plays tonight and we had some really good timing from the plate. Great win for all of us.”
The team travels to Reverchon Park in Uptown, Dallas next Monday night as they square off against the Cubs with a 7:00PM first pitch. Click here to visit game details or to map your way to the park’s address.
Waxahachie Autoplex Players of the Game