(May 10, 2018 – Carrollton, TX) Spirits (35+) starting pitcher, Jonathan Duran once again looked sharp in his outing on Thursday night and the difference in the evening was offense. Unlike the previous contest from two weeks past, the offense provided a supporting role and unleashed for 12 runs on 12 hits as the Spirits cruised to a 12 to 5 win at McInnish Park, Field #11 in NTABL Veterans League play.
The victory puts the Spirits back on the winning track, moving their record to 2-1 on the young season previously littered with field cancellations and rain-outs. A number of Spirits hitters filled the box score with a pair of hits, including Brant Finchum, Kirk Sipila, Patrick Bilgere, and Chris Lewis.
The Spirits defense was solid for the most part, slipping up with a couple of errors in the fourth and fifth innings to give the Astros a sense of hope, but they quickly recovered and the combination of pitching by Duran, defense, and solid hitting led to the victory. The Spirits picked up their first run in the bottom half of the first after Sipila recorded a two-out double. Sipila was able to snag third on a wild pitch and later scored during another wild pitch while Travis Hitzeman was battling a long count before going down on swings.
The ghosts made it 3 to 0 in the second after Shawn Lee drew a 7-pitch walk and quickly stole second. David Tipton also drew a base on balls, but Astros pitcher, Ryan Knippel was able to set Eric McPherson down on strikes to leave two on with one out. Bilgere followed with a double good enough to score both runners and Knippel recovered to retire Lewis and John Showalter to stop the bleeding.
Things remained quiet as Duran cruised behind his defense and the Spirits erupted for 4 more runs in the bottom of the third after Duran reached on an error. Cliff Brade drew a walk to push Duran to second and Finchum made it bases loaded with another base on balls. Astros Manager, Dan Zier turned to pitcher, Chris Brooks to get out of the jam. Duran was able to score on a wild pitch from Brooks and Sipila followed with a 2-RBI single to score both Brade and Finchum. Sipila was picked off on the play as he rounded first too hard and the Astros outfield made the relay in to catch him leaning. Hitzeman followed up with another single, but was squeezed after Lee reached on a fielder’s choice. Lee again stole second base and was able to scamper to third as the throw to second made its way to the Astros outfield. Tipton followed up with an RBI triple to score Lee and the Astros retired McPherson after the Spirit lead climbed to 7 to 0.
The Astros found some life in the fourth, however after Ryan Gossett drew a walk off of Duran. Marcos Vidal lined out to leave one on with one down before Kevin Hull and Aaron Lowe each followed with singles. Brooks then followed up with a double to score both Gossett and Hull and the lead was cut to 7 to 2. Trent Feekner then reached on an error by Hitzeman at shortstop and the miscue was good enough to score Lowe before Duran was able to strike out Landon Newton and was then able to get Zier to ground out.
The Astros cut the lead down to 7 to 4 in the fifth inning after Angel Marrero led the inning off with a double and then advanced to third on another error by the Spirits infield. He later scored on a double-play by the Spirits that cleared the bases. Duran then retired Knippel to kill the inning. The Spirits rebounded in the bottom half of the inning after Brade led the inning off with a single and then stole second. Brade reached third after the ball once again found the outfield on the steal attempt and later scored on an RBI single by Finchum. Sipila drew a walk and Finchum was then able to score on an RBI single by Lee. Brooks refocused and was able to set down Tipton and McPherson on strikeouts, but the Spirits increased their lead to 9 to 4.
Duran and company set the Astros down in order to start the sixth and then added 3 additional runs after Bilgere singled, stole second, and then advanced to third on a single by Lewis. Lewis stole second and Bilgere later scored on a wild pitch. Lewis followed his way home on a sacrifice fly by Showalter and Brade later reached on an error with two outs in the inning. Brade was able to reach second on an Astros fielding error and another RBI single from Finchum pushed the score to 12 to 4. The Astros added their fifth and final run in the seventh after Hull doubled and later scored on another Spirits fielding error to give the game its final score.
“Great to get back into the winning column,” commented Shawn Lee following the game. “We’re a little spoiled from our recent success and our last Veterans League game gave us a little sense of reality. The guys rebounded great tonight. (Jonathan) Duran did another great job pitching and the guys were pretty solid defensively. We made a few mistakes, but didn’t capitalize them with larger ones. The guys refocused and came up with some big plays including the double-play. Brant (Finchum), Sip (Kirk Sipila), Patrick (Bilgere), and Chris (Lewis) have been hitting the cover off the ball. If they keep it up, we’ll be in great shape!”
The ghosts return to action again next Thursday night as they head back to Uptown, Dallas and Reverchon Park to visit the Dallas Cardinals. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30PM. Click here to view game details, obtain directions to the game, or to download the iScore Central app to watch and listen to the game!