(July 30, 2019 – Euless, TX) That high-octane offense for the Spirits (40+) was missing in action on Tuesday night as the Spirits saw their season come to a close against the top-seeded Drillers. The Drillers made it a season sweep of the ghosts with a 6 to 3 and then a 5 to 1 victory as they move on to face the Redbirds in the DFW ABA League championship series.
The Spirits made a game of it during game one after Stacy Scott reached on a one-out single. Scott advanced on a wild pitch and Travis Hitzeman eventually drew a base-on-balls to put two on with one out. Shawn Lee went down looking to give the Drillers two outs, but another base-on-balls, this time to Patrick Bilgere loaded up the bases and Scott later scored on a wild pitch to give the Spirits a 1 to 0 lead.
Earl German took the start for the Spirits defensively and was able to set the Drillers in order during the first and the Spirits maintained the small lead moving into the second. Bobby Kornhauser reached on a one-out double, but the Spirits left him stranded as Brant Finchum flew out and Brian Hackney grounded out.
A pair of doubles and a walk to Mike Basileo in-between the big hits was a recipe for the tying run in the bottom half of the second and the game remained tied at one fourth when the Spirits offense broke the ice once again and were able to toggle on a pair of runs and a 3 to 1 lead after Scott led things off with a single and Hitzeman doubled to score him. Lee singled to score Hitzeman, but Bilgere grounded Lee into a double-play and the Drillers were able to stop the bleeding.
The lead was short however, as the Drillers led off the fourth with a double by Gary Jackson and a follow-up single by Basileo gave them two runners in scoring position to start off the inning. Jackson was then able to score on a wild pitch from German and Augie Guzman followed with a sacrifice fly to score Basileo who had made his way to third on a second wild pitch previously delivered from German. Joe Norris then singled and a fly out from Chris Allen gave the appearance that the Spirits could get back in the saddle tied at 3, but Matthew Sperry followed up with a single after Norris swiped second and the Drillers had a 4 to 3 lead.
Korhauser led the fifth off with a single after Pilly Sierra came in to close things for the Drillers, but the early start in the inning was moot as Finchum grounded into a double-play and Hackney followed with a ground out to end the inning as fast as it had started.
The Drillers then tacked on a pair of runs off of Kirk Sipila, who came into replace German and they never looked back. Scott finished the night 2-for-2 as did Hitzeman and Kornhauser, but the 7 hits mustered by 12 hitters proved not to be enough to get the job done as the Spirits fell, 6 to 3 in the best-of-three series.
Moving into the second game, the Spirits were optimistic they could find the same offense that was good for 33 runs in two games against the Astros just days before, but that optimism was quickly turned to silence as they team had no answer for Drillers pitcher, Charlie Griffin. The hard-throwing Amarillo native and former Independent League pitcher made quick work of most of the Spirits he faced, delivering 5 innings of work while giving up just one hit, one run after walking 4 and striking out 3. A pair of walks and a stolen base by McPherson were about as much offense as the Spirits could find as McPherson was able to squander across the plate form third following a wild pitch from Griffin. Bilgere picked up the lone hit off of Griffin in the fourth, but the signs of offense just were not present, despite the team being in a pitcher’s duel most of the way.
The game remained tied, 1 to 1 all the way to the game’s sixth inning before the Drillers unleashed for 4 runs that put the cliche knife in the coffin for the ghosts. The Spirits ended up going down in order in the bottom half of the inning and due to the two hour time limit, the Spirits ended up losing, 5 to 1 and saw their season come to a close.
Overall, it wasn’t a success but it wasn’t a disappointment either. The team finished 10-10 (.500) in a new league that certainly had it’s share of hurdles and bias. They finished fifth overall out of 10 teams and they’ll look to return and compete next season now knowing what to expect from a league that has a large range of talent. Special thanks goes out to team manager, Kirk Sipila for making the team both competitive and successful during its inaugural season.