(November 7, 2017 – Plano, TX) Thank solid pitching once again, combined with some great defense for another Spirits visit to the championship game in 2017. This coming Sunday, it will be the Spirits (Trinity) closing out the 2017 campaign with an opportunity to win the title, as well as avenge an earlier season loss to the Dallas Nationals.
Spirits (18+) All-Star, Duane Aponte, a likely candidate for the NTABL Open American League pitcher of the year award used the right combination of pitches and a solid defense behind him to shut down the Oak Cliff Pelicans with a 2 to 1 victory that carries his squad to the big game this weekend. Aponte went six and two thirds innings allowing just one earned run on 3 hits, while walking one and striking out 6. The Pelicans have played in 8 straight championships and tonight, the Spirits ended that streak with the win.
“Every player on the field touched the ball tonight,” commented John Showalter following his team’s win. “The defense was flawless for us tonight and in games like this one, every single play matters.”
Aponte started things off for the Spirits by striking out two of the first three batters he faced as he set the Pelicans down in order to start the game. Eric Goetz picked up a one out single in the bottom half of the inning, but Pelicans pitcher, Alex Permenter was able to hold off the other hitters to end the inning after seeing four Spirits visit the plate. Aponte again set the birds down in order in the second and the Spirits offense broke the ice after Showalter led off by reaching on an error. JP Seider drew a walk and Aponte loaded the bases with a single and nobody out. Justin Anderson followed with what would prove to be the game-winning, 2 RBI single that scored both Showalter and Seider while pushing Aponte to third, and giving the Spirits a 2 to 0 lead. Permenter refocused on the next set of Spirits hitters and was able to get Mike Anderson to ground out and JR Rivera and Cliff Brade on strikes.
It turns out the scoring would be complete in the top half of the third after Michael Lang singled with one out for the Pelicans and then later scored on a double by Jesse Oropeza. Aponte struck out Tristan Mangum and was able to get Wes Grizzaffi to fly out to kill any rally thoughts. The rest of the way, it was a pitcher’s and defensive duel. The Spirits made some noise in the bottom half of the third after Kyle Redinger reached on a one out error and Teddy Croft followed with a single. Showalter reached again on another Pelicans fielding error and the bases were loaded and the ghosts were poised to open up the scoring, but Seider lined out and Aponte grounded out to end any insurance opportunity.
Both sides went in order in the fourth and Aponte again shut down the Pelicans in the fifth. Redinger reached on a two out single in the bottom half of the inning, but was tagged out after swiping second and then attempting to double-down with a swipe of third. The Spirits put two more runners on in the sixth after Showalter singled and Seider squeezed him by reaching on a fielder’s choice, but Permenter was able to get Aponte on strikes to once again kill a Spirits rally.
Aponte made quick work of the seventh when he needed just 3 pitches to get Mangum on a ground out and Grizaffi to fly out before Lorenzo “Tiny” McEwan made things interesting with a double off of the left-center field wall. Showalter gave his pitcher a break and replaced Aponte with hard-throwing, Teddy Turner and Turner made quick work of Robby Sluss to seal the victory. Turner was quickly ahead of the count at 1-2 when he was able to get Sluss to fly out to end the game.
“Can’t say enough about our defense,” continued Showalter. “The Pelicans are a heck of a ball club and we’re honored to have had the opportunity to de-throne them in a sense. You can’t be the best until you beat the best and we made a step in the right direction tonight. We’ll remain focused until the job is finished.”
Showlater was spot-on in his comments about his team’s defense, which may have included the play of the year by Redinger, playing at shortstop. Making his only put-out of the game, Redinger charged hard to his left on a sharp-hit ground ball from Sluss in the top half of the fourth. The ball appeared to be a solid base hit through the hole between short and third before Redinger made a diving stab for the ball and fielded it. He proceeded to rotate on his knees, nearly 15 feet into the left field grass and fired a rocket to first, in time to get Sluss by a step.
The Spirits will take their momentum into Sunday’s NTABL Fall Baseball Trinity Division Championship game as the visitor, facing the Dallas Nationals (10-1) who defeated the Spirits earlier in the season by a score of, 1 to 0. First pitch is slated for 2:00PM and the game will be played at Graham Field on the grounds of Prestonwood Christian Academy. Click here for schedule details or to watch the game live, online.