(May 30, 2019 – Carrollton, TX) The “close, but no cigar” phrase is getting a bit worn out for the Spirits (35+) squad as they saw an opportunity for a W turn into another disappointing loss on Thursday night at McInnish Park. Although the familiar smell of stink was in the air, this time Mother Nature was responsible for it as the recent heavy rain and storms saturated parts of the park with temporary ponds that seethed out a murky, foul odor.
As for stink on the diamond, there was a little presence of it to start off the game for the ghosts, but for the most part the team played well enough to win only to fall short before the game was called due to time constraints. Cliff Brade, Kirk Sipila, and David Tipton led the Spirits each with two hits, but the rally in the sixth inning to tie the game fell short behind the arm of hard-throwing, Haley Hougen.
The Knights jumped ahead as the Spirits were unable to field a full team to start off the game. With a couple of players running behind, the squad took to the field with 8 players, including use of Eric McPherson in left field. McPherson’s throwing days came to a close earlier in the season when his doctor indicated that he’d need shoulder replacement surgery if he continued to play. The spirited McPherson has decided to continue playing as a designated hitter and is in the process of teaching himself to throw left-handed. Despite being able to field several balls that were hit in his direction, being short players allowed the Knights to get a quick advantage as they found easy holes in the outfield to score 2 quick runs in the first inning. Stacy Scott grounded out to start the inning, but Hougen hit a hard single to left to start the offense for the Knights. A single by Scott McCain allowed Hougen to score and a single off of the wall in right field by Jimmy Richardson put the Knights up, 2 to 0.
The Spirits quickly rallied of of Knights starter, Tim Trout after Brade drew a lead off walk and stole second. McPherson flew out and Sipila followed by reaching on an error. Shawn Lee went down on strikes, but Brant Finchum walked to load the bases. John Hefner was then able to reach on a Knights fielding error that scored Brade and both Sipila and Finchum later scored after Chris Lewis reached on an error by the Knights.
Up 3 to 2 in the second, the Knights rallied for 3 additional runs as the Spirits were still in the field with 8 players. The Spirits were able to tie the game at 5 to 5 in the bottom half of the inning after Tipton and Earl German both singled to start things off. Tipton advanced to third on German’s hit, but Trout was able to catch German leaning and the short game of Pickle allowed Tipton to race home from third before German was tagged out. Brade drew another base-on-balls and went on to swipe second and third and a single by Sipila scored Brade to tie the game.
An RBI single by Michael Kubick gave the Knights a 6 to 5 advantage in the third before the Spirits once again tied things up in the bottom half of the inning. Hefner reached on another Knights error and was replaced by Lee as a courtesy runner. Lee stole second and after Trout was able to retire Lewis and Jonathan Duran, Lee scored on a hard single by Tipton that resulted in a little league triple following a Knights outfield error.
The Knights rallied for another pair of runs off of Duran, who came into replace Finchum in the fifth. McCain grounded out, but Richardson reached on a free pass to first and a single by David Poole turned ugly after Matthew Lawley doubled to score both runners. The Spirits rallied for another run in the bottom half of the fifth after Finchum led the inning off with a double. He advanced to third when Hefner grounded out and a single by Lewis scored him to cut the lead to, 8 to 7.
The Spirits found opportunity in the bottom half of the sixth with time running out based on league rules, but the squad coudln’t put a full rally together after Hougen came in to pitch for the Knights. Brade reached on a one-out single and McPherson drew a walk. Hougen was able to get Lee on a strikeout, however and the Knights walked away with an 8 to 7 victory.
“Losing still sucks,” commented Lee following the game. “We put up a solid effort tonight, so I don’t feel we need to walk away with our heads down. We’re just not hungry enough yet. We haven’t gelled yet. It seems silly, but that’s the facts. We’ll keep trying to get it together. If we had 9 healthy players on the field to start the game, the outcome is likely different. But that’s how this season is going. Until we as a group determine that we’re interested in this season, playing hard, and putting full effort forward each and every game, we’re probably going to remain mediocre. Maybe it’s just about having fun this year. I don’t know. But I do know this is FAR from our best baseball. That’s on each individual on this team, self included. We’ll see what happens.”
The squad will have a tough challenge on Monday as they return to McInnish Park, Field #10 to visit Modoc with a scheduled 6:45PM first pitch. Modoc is currently in second place in NTABL Veterans League play. Click here for schedule details or to obtain driving directions to the game.