(June 5, 2019 – Euless, TX) The Spirits (40+) squad was once again engaged in a battle that appeared to be a thriller most of the game and in 2019 fashion, it appeared that the outcome would very likely follow suit to some of the disappointing endings that have been produced thus far in summer league DFW ABA play. The team was determined to produce an alternate ending to this contest, however and did just that as they produced a walk-off, 4 to 3 win Wednesday night on Legends Field at Texas Star Complex.
Eric McPherson was the winning run and the squad produced that run in dramatic fashion as they overcame a 2-run deficit in the bottom of the sixth inning to steal a victory from the Fighting Chihuahuas.
After allowing the dogs to load the bases with one out in the first, Spirits starter, John Holmquist was able to get Raymond Ayala on strikes before getting Chris Haase to fly out. Upon dodging their first bullet of the game, the Spirits quickly rallied for a run in the bottom half of the inning after McPherson led the game off with a single and Shawn Lee battled a 7-pitch at-bat with an RBI double down the left field line to score McPherson and to give the Spirits an early, 1 to 0 lead.
The Chihuahuas eventually tied the game in the third after 3 straight singles by Chris Mond, Mercedes Mendoza and James Woodruff. The mutts were greedy and attempted to score both Monk and Mendoza but Lee put up the waiving finger from left field after throwing a strike to John Hefner waiting at home to easily tag out Mendoza following the crack of the ball hitting the catcher’s mitt. Holmquist was able to get Ayala and Haase to fly out to end the inning.
The game remained quiet until the fourth inning when the dogs rallied for a 2 to 1 lead after Brett Holzer doubled to lead off the inning. Richard Grooms, Jr. later singled to push Holzer to third and he later scored after the Spirits retired John Arnett via ground out and then picked off Grooms trying to advance an extra base.
The Chihuahuas made it 3 to 1 in the fifth after Bobby Kornhauser came into replace Holmquist on the mound. Kornhauser walked Justin Maghoney to start off the inning and things went south in a hurry after Monk reached on an error that should have been a routine, 5-4-3 double-play. Jack Nash snared a hard-hit grounder in the hole and relayed too high to Kirk Sipila at second base and the ball found the outfield. Right fielder, Brian Hackney retrieved the miscue and then launched a dart to third with nobody covering and Maghoney was able to score easily. Mendoza followed the pair of blundners with a single to push Monk to third and Kornhauser saw enough as his throwing arm was in pain. Brant Finchum relieved Kornhauser and struck out Woodruff before walking Ayala to load the bases for the dogs. Finchum was able to get Haase to ground out to end the rally, but the Spirits were now down a pair of runs.
Down two runs and fast forwarding to the sixth and final inning due to time constraints, the Spirits started off hot as Nash battled Brent Holzer in several very close pitches to draw a free pass to first. Nash was able to scamper to second on a wild pitch and with the lead off hitter now in scoring position, Chris Lewis struck loud and hard with a grunt-heavy, RBI line drive single up the middle to score Nash and to cut the lead to one run. McPherson followed with a surprise bunt to push Lewis to second, but was able to beat out the play to pick up an infield single and to give the Spirits two on with nobody out. Lee took to the dish and squared to bunt, but drew back and took a ball, high. He then squared to bunt a second time and missed a strike straight down the middle. Poised to swing away on the next pitch, Holzer delivered one straight to the midsection of Lee and just like that, bases were loaded with nobody out. The Spirits were excited to see their big man at the plate and Sipila was good for contact no matter what. What the team didn’t expect is the soft roller hit to the third baseman, who in turn fielded on the run and then threw 5 feet above his catcher’s head to allow Sipila to reach on the fielder’s choice and for Lewis to score on the error. With the game tied and infielders literally playing 40 feet from home plate, Patrick Bilgere then took to the dish to play hero. His opportunity would quickly be squandered however, as Holzer delivered one into the turf and McPherson was able to take home on the wild pitch to complete the walk-off, come-from-behind victory.
“Great to get a win like this,” commented Sipila following the game. “The guys never gave up. (Chris) Lewis had been struggling a bit from the plate and came up huge there to score Jack (Nash), and Nash also showed some poise taking a couple of very close pitches to draw the walk. We attempted to bait them when Shawn (Lee) took to the plate to show bunt, but we had plans all along for him to swing away before he wore that pitch. I was fortunate enough to reach and for us to get a run off of that slow roller and the error. A lot of times we find ourselves on that side of things; when things go wrong and tonight we kept our heads in it and patiently took the opportunities that were presented. Great job by (John) Holmquist and (Brant) Finchum to shut down their hitters tonight.”
The victory keeps the squad in the middle of the pack in DFW ABA 40+ play and evens the team’s record to 5-5. The team will return to action on Monday as they host the second place Redbirds (8-2) on Arlington Field at Texas Star Complex. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30PM and you can click here for schedule details.