(June 16, 2020 – Carrollton, TX) The Spirits (35+) squad wasted little time jumping into the delayed 2020 NTABL Veterans League action as they rallied for 7 runs in the first inning Thursday night and went on to hold on against the Dallas Mustangs with a 12 to 7 win.
After an evening where the Spirits (40+) squad sputtered, bats suddenly came alive one night later and starting pitcher, Jonathan Duran was outstanding in the team’s season debut. Duran pitched for a complete-game victory, allowing only 3 earned runs on 9 hits while walking none and striking out 9.
“Duran was lights-out,” commented team skipper, Shawn Lee. “He had full command of his pitches from the get go and despite battling a small crater on the mound, he made all the necessary adjustments and really didn’t miss the plate very much the entire evening. You take away the final inning when we tried to give the game away and this game looks more like a whooping to his credit. But credit the Mustangs for hanging in there, however we have got to learn to close out games defensively.”
The Spirits offense was led by slugger Kirk Sipila, who finished the night with a pair of hits and pair of runs scored, a walk and 3 runs batted in. Cliff Brade and Duran also added hits and a pair of RBIs respectively, with Duran blasting a 2-run double earlier in the game to top the box score. For the Mustangs, it was Marc Boggio. Boggio finished a perfect 3-for-3 with a pair of runs scored and 4 RBIs that included a 2-run homer to deep left field in the bottom half of the first inning.
The scoring flood in the first started with Brade reaching on an error. Brade quickly swiped second base and Eric McPherson walked to put two on with nobody out. Brade went on to swipe third base and later scored on a single by Sipila that pushed McPherson to third. Lee flew out and two pitches later, McPherson scored on a wild pitch that allowed Sipila to move to third after previously taking second on another wild pitch. Chris Lewis also drew a walk and a walk to David Tipton loaded the bases for Brian Hackney.
Hackney took advantage of the merry-go-round by also drawing a walk and the 2-run double by Duran gave the Spirits a 5 to 0 lead. Earl German made it 5 walks in the inning and after Grant Martin popped out to the infield, Shawn Hunt made it 6 walks with another free trip to first that scored Hackney. Brade drew the seventh walk of the inning to score Duran and after McPherson flew out to end the inning, the Spirits held a 7 to 0 advantage.
A pair of ground outs to start the latter part of the inning made it look like easy work for Duran and Spirits fielding, but Patrick Osage reached on an error and the 2-run blast from Boggio made it 7 to 2, Spirits. David Waite reached on another Spirits error and a single by Christopher Pritchett kept the inning alive before Duran struck out Jeremy Greene to get the Spirits off of the field.
After Sipila reached on a walk to start the second, Lee flew out and Lewis kept his mystique of being a ball magnet alive after wearing an 0-1 pitch from Mustangs starter, Michael Pierce. Tipton went down on swings, but after Sipila sniped third he was later able to score on another wild pitch to give the Spirits an 8 to 2 lead.
Things kept quiet until the sixth inning despite Duran building up a pile of strikeouts to his status throughout the game. The Spirits then opened up for another 4 runs after Osage took the mound for the Mustangs. Osage started off slow by walking German and Martin replaced him after reaching on a fielder’s choice that squeezed German at second. Hunt then singles to push Martin to second and a follow up single by Brade scored Martin. McPherson then reached on a Mustangs error that allowed Hunt to score and a 2-run single by Sipila scored both Brade and McPherson to give the Spirits a 12-2 lead before Mustangs finally got out of the inning.
It seemed like it was over but the crying, but the Mustangs rallied behind a slew of Spirits fielding mistakes to add 5 more runs to narrow the margin before the Spirits finally shut it down. Pierce led off with a single and Stefan Klock doubled to put two runners in scoring position. Pierce then scored on a single by Osage and a follow up single by Boggio scored both Klock and Osage. Duran was able to get Waite to fly out but Pritchett reached on an error to keep the inning alive. Duran set Greene down on strikes and Andy Chatham then reached on another Spirits error before Matthew Hinders doubled to score both Boggio and Pritchett. Fortunately Duran was able to get Amin Hafsi to ground out to stop the bleeding and to end the game due to time constraints.
“Hate seeing 6 errors on the box score,” continued Lee. “Happy to see the offense clicking a bit though. We’ve got some great hitters on this team, but we need to figure out our fielding. It’s gone on too long and we’re needing a few changes. We’ll figure it out, but when we play some of these powerhouses, we’re not going to have that kind of room for mistakes. An error or two followed by a few hits, a bad call or two and suddenly it’s raining. But I’m proud of the guys for doing such a great job on offense. And for Duran to pitch that well game one, that’s exciting stuff. We’re looking forward to playing baseball. That’s really all that matters right now.
The Spirits will return to action next Thursday night as they host Dallas Modoc at First Baptist Academy starting at 8:45PM.
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