(July 9, 2016 – Dallas, TX) The winds of the Hurricanes blew but the Spirits (45+) were able to stave off the damage as they held onto a 10-9 victory Saturday morning at Jesuit College Preparatory. Pitcher John Holmquist was solid both from the mound and also from a few rare appearances at the plate to aid in Saturday’s victory. The Spirits used 17 hits to put up 10 runs to remain in the hunt for the NTABL Masters League title chase.
The Spirits jumped out to a quick and commanding lead after scoring a run in the first inning, following it up with 5 runs in the top of the second. David Tipton singled to start off the inning and Jason Gutierrez followed with a Texas-league single to the left side. With two on and nobody out, Jack Nash reached on a fielder’s choice squeezing out Tipton and Gutierrez reached third on the throw. With runners at the corners and one out, Holmquist singled scoring Gutierrez. Left fielder Shawn Lee then doubled down the left field line scoring Nash and sending Holmquist to third. Second baseman and team skipper, Kirk Sipila then singled scoring both Holmquist and Lee to give the Spirits a 5 to 0 lead. Shortstop Brant Finchum reached on a fielder’s choice and red hot hitting Brian Hackney then singled leaving two on and two out. Catcher Patrick Bilgere rounded out the inning’s scoring by singling in Finchum to give the Spirits a 6 to 0 lead.
The Hurricanes weren’t ready to back down, however. Despite solid pitching by Holmquist, the ‘Canes went to work as Mike O’Hornett led the inning off with a double deep to center field. Terry Helm then singled leaving runners at the corners. Michael Madsen then doubled to left-center on a ball that should have been caught, however Spirits outfielders Lee and Tipton ran into some confusion and the ball dropped in cleanly. Chris Crombar walked and Holmquist was able to get Kirk Pruitt swinging. Hurricanes pitcher, Bob Delahunt also went down swinging and it appeared the Spirits would coast through the bottom half of the inning. Enter in some typical Spirits vs. Hurricanes drama…Trini Montes then reached on a error by Sipila which scored Crombar and Montes then reached third after a pickoff attempt failed at first base. Sanchez then singled scoring Montes and the Spirits big lead had been erased.
“Well, it’s a typical Spirits/Hurricanes game,” mentioned Kirk Sipila. “No matter the team records, you can always expect this match-up to be competitive. We have a friendly rivalry with them and it seems it’s always a game.”
The Spirits added runs in the third and fourth innings to boost their lead to 8 to 4 before adding two more in the 5th inning. Shawn Lee took a Delahunt knuckle-ball/ephus off the wall for a double and then scored on another single from Sipila. Finchum then singled and Hackney added another hit to load the bases. Bilgere then sent a deep sacrifice fly to left scoring Sipila and the Spirits had a 10 to 4 lead following an inning-ending double play on a base running blunder by Tipton.
Sanchez started the Hurricanes 5th with a single and Mark Adams then drew a walk. Mason Gann also singled and the bases were loaded with nobody out. Vince Parello then reached on an error by Sipila scoring Sanchez. O’Hornett flew out and Helm flew out to left scoring Adams. With the score at 10 to 6, the Hurricanes got the Spirits to go 1-2-3 in the top of the 6th and came up to bat in the game’s final inning due to time constraints. Crombar reached on an error by Finchum to start the Hurricanes’ half of the 6th, and Pruitt followed with a single. Delahunt then singled loading the bases with nobody out in the game’s final inning. With the sun beating down on all players and humidity that was shameless, Sipila chose to give Holmquist a break and brought Finchum in for relief. Montes hit a sac fly to center scoring Crombar and the score was cut to 10 to 7. Sanchez then singled to load the bases again and Adams drew another walk and scored Pruitt making it 10 to 8. Gann then grounded out to short but Delahunt scored cutting the lead to 10 to 9. With two out and runners on second and third, the Spirits were facing a possible loss with a hit deep enough to score both runners.
Sipila then made a great decision to walk slugger Vince Parello to load the bases and provide the defense with a force at any bag. The move proved to be worthy as O’Hornett grounded to Sipila who threw to Lee at second base who had moved defensively on the pitching change, obtaining the force out to end the game.
“Offensively we had our moments. John (Holmquist) was solid again from the hill. Defensively we let him down a few times, but for the most part we did what we needed to do in order to get the win,” continued Sipila. “The Hurricanes got hot in that last inning to give us a scare, but it looks like the late game strategy was big. Intentionally walking their three-hole hitter with two outs to load the bases with the winning run at second to set up that force at any bag worked out for us. I was able to nab the one-hopper there at short and Shawn was at the bag, so we got the easy play and were able to end the rally. We were sloppy a few times today but solid when it counted. We’ll take the W!”
The Spirits return to action Monday night as they host the Caddo Reds at McInnish Park, Field #11 at 9:00PM in Carrollton.
Waxahachie Autoplex Players of the Game