(April 8, 2018 – Plano, TX) The 2017 NTABL Open American champion, Dallas Spirits (18+) squad started off 2018 equally as hot as they finished during last year’s championship run Sunday afternoon, as they blasted the Blue Jays by a score of 11 to 0. The squad starts a new journey this season as team manager, John Showalter and company take on a new adventure in the higher level, NTABL Open National League. Needless to say, the team found itself off to a great start.
All-Star, Spirits (35+) Team MVP, and NTABL Veterans League pitcher-of-the-year, Craig Molldrem took the start for the Spirits and left no doubt that he wants to be in the discussion of those impressive titles once again in 2018. Molldrem showed no mercy to a Blue Jays squad that could only muster one lone single and a base on balls for offense against a team that appeared to be in mid-season form. The Blue Jays, made up of a number of Dallas Nationals responsible for two different 1 to 0 losses in Fall Ball play, including a victory to win the Fall Championship over the Spirits (Trinity) squad were at the end of payback in the form of a freight train. Molldrem only needed 5 innings in the shortened complete-game victory to shut down the birds, finishing with 10 strikeouts.
Offensively, the Spirits were equally as solid. The squad put together 11 runs on 9 hits, including a 3-for-3 performance by All-Star, Kyle Redinger, and a 2-for-2 performance by newcomer, Holden Novak. The Spirits opened the game with a 7-run first inning starting with Cliff Brade drawing a walk. Brade quickly reached second on a Jays error and then moved to third on a single by Redinger. Redinger stole second and the bases filled after All-Star, Eric Goetz drew a free past to first. Brade was able to score on a wild pitch, before Mike Werner drew yet another walk and a single by All-Star, Teddy Croft once again loaded the bases. Redinger was able to score on a passed ball, which allowed the runners to advance and the merry-go-round continued after Goetz scored on another pitch in the dirt. John Showalter scored Werner with a sac-fly and Molldrem followed by reaching on a fielding error. With the bags again packed with Spirits, their was a brief pause as JR Rivera went down on strikes. Duane Aponte followed up by reaching on another fielding error to score Croft, and Novak added the exclamation point by crushing a ground-rule double to score both Molldrem and Aponte.
“We knew that Craig (Molldrem) put in a lot of hard work over the off-season and from the first pitch, it was obvious it was going to be a long day for our opponent,” commented Showalter after his team’s dominant win. “I’ve seen Craig throw over the past two seasons and today it looked different. He had some incredible life on his fastball and unfortunately, the Blue Jays were simply over-matched today.”
The Spirits added a pair of additional runs in the second inning after Brade wore a pitch from Jays pitcher, Austin Hank. Hank replaced starter, Corey Rupert and Brade battled a six-pitch count that included 3 straight foul balls before wearing one. Redinger picked up his second single on the day and Goetz added a single. The Jays were able to get Brade hanging off of third before Werner blasted a double to score both runners. Molldrem added a solo homerun in the third that still hasn’t landed, and the Spirits picked up run number 11 after Brade wore another pitch, stole second, and reached third on a Redinger’s hat trick of hits. Brade later scored on an RBI ground out by Goetz.
“As far as the offensive output today, what can you say?” continued Showalter. “We had 11 men in the lineup today and each of them had a turn at the plate during the first inning. We put up a 7-spot on a guy that held us scoreless during the Fall season. Although he had a difficult time locating his fastball, the guys were patient and took advantage of pitches in the zone. It’s still early, it’s just our first game, but we have hope that this performance will be indicative of the rest of the season for us. This is a competitive league and we know it. We don’t second-guess anyone, even after a win like this. It was a great way to start of our first season at this level.”
Showalter and company return to action next Wednesday night as they host last year’s NTABL Open National champions in the form of the Dallas Panthers. First pitch is slated for 8:45PM at Reverchon Park in Uptown, Dallas.
Dallas Spirits (18+) Players of the Game