(October 2, 2019 – Carrollton, TX) The coach has joked about it, regardless of the dirty truth. The perpetual “Spirits inning,” that typically consists of a combination of fielding errors, poor decision-making and/or timely hits from the opposition. These innings typically haunt the Spirits, pun intended and proof of the supernatural once again reared its ugly head Wednesday night as the squad fell short on a comeback that shouldn’t have been. The Knights posted a snowman during the sixth inning and then held off a team that fought until the very last out to sneak away with an 8 to 7 win.
Brant Finchum took the start for the Spirits and had a solid outing through five innings before the Knights bats came alive. The Spirits led 1 to 0 in the second inning after Chris Lewis reached on a Knights error, which allowed him to advance to second. Aaron Wilson followed with an RBI single to score Lewis and the ghouls held the single run lead until the bottom half of the third when Grant Martin led off with a single and advanced on a balk by Knights pitcher, Matthew Lawley. Martin advanced to third on a single by Kirk Sipila and Craig Molldrem followed through with an RBI single to score him and to give the Spirits a 2 to 0 lead after three complete.
The score remained intact until the top half of the sixth when all hell broke loose. Lawley, Todd Murrah and Michael Kubick started off the inning with singles to load the bases. Chris Clark made it four straight hits to score Lawley and the Knights were on the board. Scott Wulzer flew out, but another single, this time by Jesus Marquez scored Murrah to tie the game. Nick Smith followed by reaching on a Spirits error that scored Kubick and the Spirits turned to Sipila to try to stop the bleeding. Joshua Leveridge welcomed Sipila with an RBI single to score Clark and through Rodger Battani grounded out for out number two, Marquez was able to score and the merry-go-round continued. Haley Hougen and Lawley each followed with RBI singles to tack on two more runs and before Murrah flew out and the dust settled to end the inning, the Knights had an 8 to 2 lead.
“Wind was out of our sails for a moment there,” commented Shawn Lee. “We’ve been on the unfortunate side of innings like this several times this season, but I have to give the guys credit, they kept their heads up. I personally felt we were hosed, but kudos to them for keeping our spirits up and staying in the game.”
The ghosts returned to the dish and found a little life after Lee reached on a one-out single and stole second. Patrick Bilgere grounded out, but Lee advanced to third. Lewis reached on an infield single to put runners at the corners and a wild pitch from Lawley allowed Lee to make it home to cut the lead to, 8 to 3. Lewis had previously swiped second and after he advanced on the same wild pitch that scored Lee, Wilson reached base with a two-out walk. Battani wasn’t in the mood with the Spirits flirting with a comeback, so he turned to his hard-throwing right-handed pitcher, Hougen to stave off any comeback ideas for the Spirits. The Knights didn’t get the desired result immediately as David Tipton took the third pitch he saw from Hougen to the warning track for a triple that scored both Lewis and Wilson that cut the lead to 8 to 5. Finchum eventually went down on strikes to end the inning, but the Spirits were poised to stay in the game.
Sipila and the Spirits defense were able to hold the Knights scoreless in the seventh and they came up for one last attempt to get back into the game. John Hefner led off by reaching on a Knights error and a single by Martin put two on with nobody out. Cliff Brade reached on a fielder’s choice that left everyone safe and with the bases loaded, Sipila followed with a single to score both Hefner and Martin and the lead was down to a run. Molldrem went down on strikes and Lee stepped in for an opportunity to play hero. After taking a strike, Brade took off for third and Sipila took a walk toward second. Initially, the team thought the game was tied and Sipila was looking for a chance to get caught in a run down that would allow for the speedy Brade to race home. The Knights didn’t bite and after Sipila gingerly made his way to the bag at second, the Knights chose to intentionally walk Lee to load the bases with a force at any bag. Bilgere settled in and popped up to the infield before Lewis battled a six-pitch count before eventually losing the battle swinging against Hougen.
“Great effort and comeback,” continued Lee. “Bummed we didn’t get the walk-off after seeing such a horrible sixth inning, but credit to the guys hanging in there and battling Haley (Hougen). He was bringing a little extra and it’s been a minute since our guys saw high 80s or even 90. We knew they’d be a tough game and if you take away that bad inning, we win that one. We’ll be ready to battle the next change we get.”
The team is scheduled to return to action on Sunday when they host the EKG Orioles at Graham Field. First pitch is slated for 6:00PM and you can click here for schedule details.