(August 12, 2020 – Euless, TX) A lot of folks would have considered it a great game and for all intents and purposes, it was. The Spirits (40+) took on a solid hitting and defending Rattlers squad on Legends Field at Texas Star this past Wednesday night and the game traded blows and saw jubilation turn into shaking heads as the Spirits put together a comeback and were in a perfect position to pick up the win but saw it fall apart in the game’s final inning.
The Spirits started off quickly by adding a pair of runs in the first inning after Eric McPherson created a spark with a lead off double to the left field wall. Stacy Scott flew out but Eric Goetz followed with a double to push McPherson to third and after Travis Hitzeman reached on a Rattlers error, the Spirits had a 1 to 0 lead. Bobby Kornhauser followed with a sacrifice fly that scored Goetz and the Spirits were up 2 to 0 before David Tipton grounded out to end the inning.
The Rattlers bounced back quickly to tie the game in the bottom half of the first on an RBI single by Ravi Malick that scored Marcos Vidal III, who had singled earlier. An error by Tipton in center field had allowed Justin Harris to reach before the RBI single and Daron Wilkinson made it hurt by following up with an RBI single that scored Harris.
The Rattlers picked up the lead in the third inning after Todd McClurg drew a walk off of Kornhauser, the Spirits starter. Korhauser fanned Scott Rodges and one passed ball and a wild pitch later, McClurg was standing on third. A follow up single by Stephen Smith scored McClurg and the Rattlers led, 3 to 0.
The Rattlers opened the game up in the bottom half of the third inning after they scored another 3 runs on a walk, a Spirits fielding error and 3 singles. The Spirits weren’t ready to back down as the game time of two hours began to loom in the slowly developing contest. Hitzeman led off the top half of the fourth with a double and then moved to third after Kornhauser singled. Tipton followed up with an RBI single to score Hitzeman and the Rattlers had seen enough of starter, Christopher Brooks. They turned to McClurg to slow things down but Kornhauser was able to score after a pick-off attempt of Tipton at first base went south. McClurg was eventually able to get Brant Finchum to ground out and despite a single by Dan Sosa to keep the inning alive, John Hefner flew out and Chris Lewis grounded out to end the inning with the Rattlers in charge, 6 to 4.
Fast forward to the fifth and final inning as the league’s two hour time limit came into play. The Spirits found something in the tank as Kirk Sipila and McPherson led off the inning with back to back singles. Scott went down swinging and Goetz went down with in an infield fly and the result seemed bleak for the ghosts with two on and two down, down a pair of runs. Hitzeman kept the inning alive with a single to load the bases and Kornhauser came through as the hero with a bases-clearing double that not only cleared the deficit but gave the Spirits a 7 to 6 lead.
“We were having some fun on Bobby’s (Kornhauser) hit,” commented Shawn Lee after the game. Lee was out with an abdominal muscle injury. “You could see every guy that came to the plate was hungry. Got to give my guys credit, they stayed in it to win it.”
With Kornhauser on second base and onto third base 5 pitches later due to a wild pitch, Tipton drew a base-on-balls and the inning remained alive momentarily. Tipton swiped second base to put both runners in scoring position but McClurg was able to get Finchum on swings to end the rally.
After agreeing to “go one more inning” twice and with 98 pitches delivered in his first outing of the season, the Spirits gave Kornhauser a break and turned to veteran and crafty right-hander, John Holmquist to hold the Rattlers in the game’s final frame. Unfortunately for Holmquist and the Spirits defense, the Rattlers were equally poised to remain alive. Holmquist struggled initially by throwing 4 straight balls to walk Vidal, but he was able to get Brooks and Harris to fly out. Seeking one more out for victory, the last two Rattlers hitters made it count as Malick was able to single deep to the outfield good to score the speedy Vidal and after battling his way to a 3-2 count after Malick swiped second, Wilkonsin finished the game as the Rattlers hero, connecting on a walk-off, game-winning RBI single that scored Malick and sucked the wind out of the short-live come-from-behind win for the Spirits.
“Tough to lose like that,” continued Lee. “Bobby pitched and played a heck of a game. Sorry to see him get nothing for it. We often struggle with keeping opposing runners on first. If you get there, we tend to give you second at and second, you’re in scoring position. Credit the Rattlers for hanging in there and getting a couple of key hits. A lot of guys can’t handle that opportunity and they did a great job with it. Half of those 8 runs were on us, and even though the book doesn’t show it we should have held another guy or two from getting to the plate. And hats off to my guys for making it a game. It was fun. We did a few things to allow them runs and it was the difference. There are some things we need to fix and I’m uncertain it’ll happen this season but we’ll keep after it.”
The loss drops the Spirits (40+) record to 4-5 in DFW ABA League action where they’ve remained in the middle of the pack as a .500 team most of the season. The team battles the second place, LS Spurs next Wednesday night once again on Arlington Field at Texas Star. Click here for schedule details or to learn how you can download the iScore Central app to listen to Spirits Baseball live, online!