(June 19, 2017 – Plano, TX) The forecast called for a scattered hits and a chance of runs as the Dallas Spirits (45+) squad traveled to Graham Field to visit the host DFW Hurricanes Monday night. Although the weatherman may have been spot on regarding Monday night’s forecast, it appears there may have been failure to note that there was also an offensive storm brewing in the visiting team’s dugout. The Spirits unleashed for 17 hits against Hurricanes pitching, and despite leaving 9 runners left on base and going up against a solid ‘Canes defense, the team was able to generate 10 runs and cruise to a 10 to 5 victory.
Earl German took the start for the NTABL Masters League version of the ghosts and was solid in four innings of work as he continues to stave off a groin muscle injury that has stalked him for most of 2017. German gave up 3 earned runs on 5 hits, while walking no one, and striking out one. German did his part offensively as well, providing 2 hits in 3 appearances, drawing one free pass, while also knocking in 2 runs. His performance was backed up by team slugger, Kirk Sipila and second baseman, Mark Leemaster. The two combined for 7 hits in 7 appearances, each with a double, and Sipila also good for a triple, 2 runs scored, and 3 runs batted in.
“Both of them played great tonight. It’s obvious why Sip (Sipila) has been voted a 3-time MVP by our team,” mentioned club manager, Shawn Lee following the contest. “You’ll never hear him boasting about his numbers or how he helped, but he’s always getting it done offensively and defensively, leading by example. A lot of us look up to him, but there’s no doubt he’s a great asset to this team, both on and off the field. And Mark, he crushed too. He seemed to find any hole the defense left on the field. Plus, you can count on a great play from him every now and again. That diving catch he had at second was sick! It’s too bad we don’t record these games. He’s landed a few plays on the highlight reel this season.”
The Spirits offense went to work immediately in the top half of the first inning, starting with hard base knock from Lee with one out. Lee went on to steal second and advance to third on a passed ball. Sipila promptly followed by slapping a troublesome fly ball to mid-center field that appeared to be trouble when it left the bat. The Hurricanes center fielder wasn’t able to catch up to it, and amidst the clutter of the second baseman and shortstop chasing from the opposite direction, the ball bounced off the turf and away from all three players, allowing Sipila to skate in with an RBI triple. Catcher, Chris Lewis then singled in Sipila and the Hurricanes were able to set down Brian Hackney leaving the score 2 to 0 with two out. German drew a free pass and the Spirits welcomed back outfielder, Dennis Gonzalez as he singled to right field to score Lewis. The Hurricanes were able to get Jack Nash to ground out, but after a half inning complete, the Spirits led 3 to 0.
The Spirits added a fourth run in the third inning when Sipila singled and was then squeezed at second after Hackney reached on a fielder’s choice. Hackney was replaced by Lee as a courtesy runner and Lee was able to steal second and then score on a single by German. The squad was up 4 to 0 before the Hurricanes found their answer in the bottom-half of the third. Kirk Pruitt flew out and Joey Guavara followed with a one out single. Mark Adams then doubled to right-center to score Guavara. German was able to get Thomas Young to ground out, but Adams made his way to third on the play and then later scored when a German pitch got past Lewis at the dish. The Spirits were able to get Terry Helm to fly out, but the rally cut into the lead and after three complete, the Spirits led 4 to 2.
Before the Hurricanes were able to carry out their new found momentum to the field, the Spirits struck hard in the fourth. Leemaster began the inning with a double and that’s when John Holmquist, used to pitching and not hitting, stood poised and followed through with his second single on the evening to push Leemaster to third. Leemaster then scored when Brant Finchum reached on an error and Holmquist was able to make it to third on the same error. Sipila followed with a double to score both runners, and he also scored after Lewis singled. Lewis made his way to the third on a double by Hackney, and Lewis then scored on a single by German. The Spirits finished the inning with 5 runners across the plate and now held a 9 to 2 lead after 3 and a half innings complete.
The Hurricanes rallied for another pair of runs in the bottom half of the inning to cut the lead to 9 to 4. Sipila replaced German on the mound and was able to hold the Hurricanes to a single run on two hits, while both teams added a run in the sixth before the defense settled to close out the game in the seventh with the final score showing the Spirits on top, 10 to 5. The Spirits offense continues to find clutch moments in games to carry them to victory, and several hitters finished the night with at least two hits, including Lee, Lewis, Holmquist and German.
“I was really pleased with the effort the guys put out tonight,” commented Sipila following his team’s victory. (Chris) Lewis played well behind the plate for us tonight and although Earl (German) didn’t have his best stuff tonight, he battled it out for four innings to pick us up a win. With all the injuries we’re currently struggling with, we were still able to put together a great team effort and earn another mark in the victory column.”
The squad returns to action next Monday night when they host the Cubs at Graham Field, located on the grounds of Prestonwood Christian Academy in Plano. First pitch will throw at 8:45PM.