(October 1, 2017 – Plano, TX) Make-overs may have been on the fall agenda, however the Spirits (Brazos) squad didn’t get the message. The Caddo Reds showed up at Graham Field on Sunday night with a young herd of hungry baseball players and the updated version of the ball club had its way with the ghosts both offensively and defensively.
Reds skipper, Bill Macey turned to Chris Schleif as his pitcher and Schleif didn’t disappoint. Schleif went the distance, giving up just 5 hits to Spirits hitters while striking out 6 on his way to picking up the victory. The Spirits had opportunity to change the outcome, but they didn’t put to use the 6 base on balls delivered by Schleif and ended up leaving 10 runners stranded on base before the contest was over.
Spirits pitcher, John Holmquist was battling a back muscle injury and though he held his own for several innings, his back finally gave way to Reds hitting. The Reds did get a quick start off Holmquist in the first when Matthew Hinders led the game off with a single. Hinders took second base and scored after Grant Schiller followed with another single. Schiller quickly took second and advanced to third after Rich Beller reached on a Spirits fielding error and it was clear the Reds game plan was to use their speed to snare bases when they could. Schleif flew out to center field, but the sac fly was good enough to score Schiller from third and the Reds had an early, 2 to 0 lead.
The Spirits rallied for a run to make it 2 to 1 in the bottom half of the second when Brant Finchum singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Brian Hackney grounded out but Finchum made it to third when John Showalter doubled. Jack Nash followed by grounding out to an infield playing back and Finchum was able to score before Schleif ended the inning by striking out Dennis Gonzalez.
Cutting into the Reds lead didn’t last long however, as the team rallied for another 4 runs in the third after Hinders again started the inning with a single. Hinders advanced to second on a failed pick off attempt from Holmquist, and then later reached third on a ground out by Schiller. Beller reached on a fielder’s choice and Hinders scored on an error by Patrick Bilgere. Schleif also reached on an error and a single by Todd Murrah loaded the bases for the Reds. Michael Pierce followed with a double to the right-center field gap to score both Beller and Schleif, and Murrah was able to score on a sacrifice fly ball from Brett Baker.
The Reds picked up another 3 runs in the top half of the fifth inning to lead 9 to 1 and it appeared the route was on. The Spirits battled back in the bottom half of the seventh after Showalter reached on an error. Schleif struck out Jack Nash and was able to get Gonzalez to fly out, but David Delk drew a free pass and David Tipton singled to load the bases. Bilgere drew an RBI walk as well and Travis Hitzeman followed with a single to keep the bases loaded with the lead now cut to 9 to 3. Schleif then battled Shawn Lee to a 3-2 count and won as Lee flew out to right to kill the rally and to end the game.
“Not a thrilling performance from us tonight,” Lee commented after his team’s loss. “They had a lot of new faces on the field tonight and some good speed. The Reds have a great team and they will challenge for the title. I feel like we learned a lot from this game tonight and I can guarantee we’ll be more prepared the next time we face them. They did a nice job tonight, so congrats to the Reds.”
The loss drops the team to 3-1 in NTABL Brazos Division fall ball play, where they remain in a virtual tie for first place. The team returns to action on Wednesday night when they visit the Thunderbirds at Graham Field. First pitch is slated for 6:30PM.
Waxahachie Autoplex Players of the Game