(July 23, 2019 – Euless, TX) The Spirits (40+) squad avenged a pair of regular season losses to the Astros Tuesday night by putting on an absolute hitting clinic as they trounced the hard-hitting squad by a score of 22 to 9 in DFW ABA League playoff action. The Spirits put up 15 hits on the night and the Astros collected their share as well with 13, but solid defense and key outs defensively controlled by starting pitcher, Kirk Sipila and an inning of work from Brant Finchum proved to be a winning combination.
Sipila went on an absolute tear at Texas Star, finishing the game 4-for-4 from the dish with 3 doubles, 3 runs scored and 6 runs batted in.
“The numbers speak for themselves,” commented club manager, Shawn Lee after the game. You can’t do too much to lose when you have the top of your lineup getting on base nearly every time and this guy (Sipila) crushing the ball like that. It was almost unfair, but it was nice to see it from our side for a change. Between him and (Eric) McPherson, they flat out carried us.”
McPherson finished the evening 2-for-3 with a double, 3 runs scored, 4 RBIs and a walk. The team started off quickly in the first inning after McPherson flew out to start the game. Stacy Scott singled and Sipila followed with a single and the Spirits appeared to be in business. Travis Hitzeman then reached on a fielder’s choice that squeezed Sipila at second, but pushed Scott to third and with two down, Lee came through with a laser to right-center to score both runners and to give the Spirits a 2 to 0 lead. Patrick Bilgere then singled to push Lee to third, but David Tipton grounded out to end the inning.
In the bottom half of the first, the Astros answered with 4 runs after Dan Zier led the inning off with a single before Aaron Lowe popped up to the Spirits infield. Zier advanced to second after Christopher Brooks singled and a follow up single by Joseph Crites loaded the bases before Daron Wilkinson to score Zier. With bases still loaded, James Bolton slapped a medium line drive to right field that Spirits outfield, Jack Nash appeared to misjudge and his attempt to make a diving play cost the Spirits as the ball bounced past him and rolled to the wall while the bases cleared and Bolton ended up on third with a triple. Scott Rodgers was then called out on offensive interference after failing to get out of the way on a pick off attempt by Bilgere, the Spirits catcher and Bolton was later picked off to end the inning.
Down 4 to 2 and moving into the second, the Spirits picked up where they had left off in the first inning. John Hefner led off the inning with a single and Bobby Kornhauser drew a walk. Brant Finchum also drew a walk and with bases loaded Brian Hackney grounded out, but it was good enough to score Hefner. McPherson then followed with a double to score both Kornhauser and Finchum and he advanced to third a short time later after Scott grounded out. A double by Sipila kept the rally rolling as McPherson was able to score easily and another double by Hitzeman scored Sipila and the Spirits were back in control with a 7 to 4 lead before Lee went down swinging to end the inning.
The Astros cut the lead to 7 to 6 after Nathan Phillips drew a walk to start the bottom of the second. Chris Roach reached on a fielder’s choice that squeezed Phillips at second and Justin Van Slyke followed with another single. Zier then singled to score Roach and another single from Lowe was good to score Van Slyke.
In the top half of the third, the Spirits offense opened the game up. Bilgere drew a base-on-balls and a pitch later, Lee was cut down trying to steal second as he replaced Bilgere as a courtesy runner. With one down, Tipton also drew a walk and Hefer followed with a pop-up that recorded the second out for the ghosts. It would seem the Astros were ready to get out of the inning and take that momentum back to offense, but Kornhauser singled to push Tipton to third and a wild pitch allowed him to score a moment later. Finchum drew another walk and a walk to Nash loaded up the bases. McPherson picked up the easy RBI as the merry-go-round continued with another free trip to first and the Astros has seen enough of Brooks as their starter. Randall Land came in to replace Brooks and Scott welcomed him by drawing the third walk in a row to score Finchum. Enter Sipila, who once again doubled and scored all three runners. He later scored when Hitzeman reached on an Astros fielding error and the Spirits were up 14 to 6 before Lee grounded out to end the inning.
The score remained intact into the top of the fourth and the Spirits offense wasn’t ready to cool down. Van Slyke came into pitch for the Astros and he was able to get Bilgere to fly out. Tipton reached on an error and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Hefner walked and a double by Kornhauser scored Tipton and pushed Hefner to third. Finchum drew his third straight walk and after Hackney was hit by a pitch, the Spirits went up, 16 to 6. McPherson followed with an RBI single to score Kornhauser and a walk to Scott added another run for the Spirits. Sipila followed with his third double on the night, allowing both Hackney and McPherson to score and a sacrifice fly ball from Hitzeman delivered run 21 as Scott was able to tag and score. Lee followed up with an RBI single to score Sipila and after Tipton reached on another Astros error, they were able to get Hefner on a ground out to kill the inning.
Finchum came in to relieve Sipila in the bottom of the fourth and Phillips welcomed him with a single. Roach flew out, but a triple by Van Slyke scored Phillips. Zier picked up another RBI to score Van Slyke and another hit from Lowe pushed Zier to third. He later scored on a fielder’s choice and Finchum was then able to retire Crites via fly out to end the game due to the league’s two hour time limit.
“We played insane tonight,” continued Lee. “The stats really speak for themselves. Guys were patient tonight, waited for pitches to hit and for the most part, our defense was solid. We’ll take this momentum into tomorrow night’s game and look to take them out quickly.”
The team returns to action tomorrow night as they look to complete a best of three series against the Astros. First game is scheduled for 6:45PM at Oak Grove Park, Field H and game two will follow if necessary. Click here for schedule details.