(July 6, 2017 – Plano, TX) Spirits (35+) pitching ace, Craig Molldrem and the rest of his teammates weren’t quite in the giving mood as they were back on May 18, when they essentially handed over a victory in walk-off fashion to Dallas Modoc. Thursday night’s affair went a different direction as the club avenged the early season loss by winning a pitcher’s duel at Graham Field in Plano.
The boys in blue were limited to just 4 hits, however a 2-run single by Molldrem in the bottom half of the fifth inning dropped into short-center field and broke the 0-0 tie and proved to be the difference as he held Modoc to just 2 hits on the evening, defensively. Molldrem struck out 10 hitters, walking only one, while Modoc pitchers, Jerry Anderson and Steve Hahn combined to strike out 7 Spirits, while walking only one as well.
“It was a solid effort by both teams tonight,” commented team manager, Shawn Lee following the contest. “Craig was dealing for us tonight and we put together just enough offense to battle Anderson and Hahn to get the W. Essentially what you can expect when these two teams face one another. Both teams have great hitters and great pitching and there’s no doubt we’ll get used to one another a little later down the road.”
The victory moves the team to 12-1 overall, where they remain atop the NTABL Veterans League Standings. The victory was the 11th on the season for Molldrem, as the Spirits take the season series over Modoc, 2 to 1.
The Spirits were presented with opportunity in the bottom of the third when catcher, Will Nash and Molldrem both reached on an error and designated hitter, Eric McPherson reached on a single to load the bases with nobody out. It was McPherson’s first game back in over a month after sitting on the disabled list with a hamstring injury and while recovering from off-season rotator-cuff surgery. The rally was short-lived when third baseman, John Showalter grounded to third and Modoc made the play to force Nash out at home, while doubling up Showalter at first for a double-play. Anderson was then able to strike out Jonathan Duran and Modoc left the inning unscathed.
More opportunity showed in the bottom half of the fourth when Earl German drew a walk and David Tipton singled to put two on with nobody out. Anderson remained poised again and was able to strike out Cliff Brade and to get sluggers, Jason Bottenfield and Kirk Sipila to fly out.
Modoc saw it’s luck run out in the bottom of the fifth, however. After Chris Cec reached on an error in the top half of the inning with one down, Molldrem was able to strike out Josh Claudio and Nash was able to set down Cec, who attempted a delayed steal to third. Cec had a solid jump on the play, but Nash’s awareness of the move proved to be gold as he double-clutched his return throw to Molldrem and promptly threw out Cec at third easily. In the latter half of the inning, Travis Hitzeman started the inning with a single, but was squeezed at second when Lee beat out a double-play attempt to leave one on with one out. Chris Lewis then reached on an error and with two on and one out, Nash grounded out but was able to advance both runners to second and third. Enter Molldrem to aide his own cause. Molldrem hit a short fly ball directly to center field in which the Modoc center fielder, shortstop, and second baseman pursued, however the ball found the turf and Lee and Lewis were able to score to give the Spirits a 2 to 0 lead, and eventually, the 2 to 0 victory.
“Hats off to both teams,” continued Lee. “The game was a little boring perhaps to some of our fans, but when you have two solid teams like this go head to head with some of the best pitching in the league, you can rest assured every play matters. Credit to my guys for sticking to each play and working to get us the win. We look forward to seeing Modoc again.”
The team returns to action next Thursday night as they visit the Cubs at McInnish Park, Field #11 with a 6:45PM first pitch.