(October 12, 2022 – Euless, TX) Welcome to a game that was hard to watch. A week out of a 10-error performance, the Spirits defense looked for a way to challenge that game and nearly nailed it this past Wednesday night. Unfortunately, the squad picked the absolute wrong time to go through a collective fail on defense. Loaded up on the other side of the diamond was #SheGone, a cast of mostly former MLB and Minor League players.
The Spirits earned an earlier season win by a margin of 7 to 3 and it was clear the big leaguers were looking for some revenge. They may have not necessarily earned it, but the celebrated and walked away with a win after the Spirits defense provided them runs via 9 errors on the field of play. A week out from his first perfect game, Spirits starting pitcher, Craig Molldrem was busy completing another masterpiece that most won’t get to see in the spotlight due o the amount of dust kicked up by the Spirits fielding.
Molldrem threw six and a third innings, allowing 2 earned run off of 2 hits, while walking 4, and striking out 12. One might expect somehow for a win to come out of this sort of situation, but that wouldn’t be the case for the ghosts.
In the first inning, Molldrem struck out both James Bolton and Jeff Frye before Billy McDaniel singled to the right side. McDaniel swiped second and moved to third after Shawn Hunt‘s throw to second sailed to the outfield. Charles Bolton was hit by a pitch, and three pitches later, McDaniel was able to score on a passed ball before Scott Peterson walked, and Justin Hatcher grounded out to end the inning.
The Spirits rallied for a tying run in the bottom frame after Cliff Brade singled and later moved to second on a passed ball. Eric McPherson went down on swings but Travis Hitzeman kept the inning alive with a single. A walk to Aaron Wilson loaded the bags before Hatcher, the #SheGone starting pitcher struck out David Tipton. Two pitches later, Brade was able to score on a wild pitch before Molldrem lost the battle on swings. After one complete, the game was tied at one run each.
Molldrem struck out the side in the form of Chad Cain, Sean Duncan, and Brandon Glazer in the second, and the Spirits followed suit going down in 1-2-3 fashion with a flyout and a pair of line drives to end the second.
In the third, a celebratory #SheGone squad recorded three runs after Jason Garza led the inning off with a slap single to right. James Bolton was then able to reach after grounding to the right side. Stacy Scott fielded the ball moving toward first base but then tried to turn and throw to second to get the lead runner. Garza slid in safely and #SheGone had a pair on with nobody out. Both runners advanced after Frye grounded out with the only play being first base, and a follow up single by McDaniel scored both runners to give #SheGone a 3 to 1 advantage. Charles Bolton was then able to reach on a throwing error by Tipton at shortstop, and McDaniel, who had moved to third on the error, later scored on an error by Hunt to make it 4 to 1, #SheGone.
The Spirits closed the gap by scoring a pair of runs in the bottom half of the third when Brade picked up his second single of the game with one out. McPherson flew out and Brade eventually stole second. Hitzeman then made the steal hurt by scoring Brade with an RBI single. He then moved to third after Wilson doubled, and the Spirits offense was coming to life. Tipton was able to reach on an error that allowed Hitzeman to cross the dish, but the team squandered the tying run after Hatcher was able to get Molldrem to ground out to end the inning.
Molldrem then struck out Cain in the fourth, but Duncan was able to reach on another Spirits error. Duncan was squeezed at second after Brandon Glazner reached on a fielder’s choice, and Molldrem went on to strike out Garza to get out of the inning.
The Spirits then tied the game in the bottom half of the inning after Hunt drew a leadoff walk. Mike Sopocy struck out but Earl German reached on another #SheGone error to put two on with one out for the Spirits. Scott then reached on a fielder’s choice that put out German at second and moved Hunt to third, and an errant throw by James Bolton then allowed Hunt across the plate to tie the game at 4 to 4 before Brade grounded out.
Charles Bolton lead the #SheGone fifth by reaching on another Spirits error but was later put out at second after Scott Peterson reached on a fielder’s choice. Hatcher followed by reaching on, you guessed it, another Spirits error that allowed Peterson to score before Molldrem struck out Richard Valle and Duncan to get out of the inning. The Spirits offense stalled in the bottom frame, however, and another pair of errors heading into the top half of the seventh seemed to put the game out of reach.
Glazner drew a leadoff walk and another fumbled fielder’s choice that easily could have been recorded as an error allowed Garza to get on base as well. James Bolton struck out swinging, but another Spirits fielding error allowed Frye to reach base and for both Glazner and Garza to score. Frye eventually stole second base and a walk McDaniel put two on before the Spirits picked up their ninth defensive error, this time allowing Charles Bolton to reach base and to load the bags. Bolton hit a soft bouncer to Molldrem, who turned to Tipton at short to attempt the 1-6-3 double-play. Tipton mishandled the throw unfortunately, an all runners were safe.
“I had seen enough at that point,” team skipper, Shawn Lee commented afterwards. “We somehow were in this game despite playing like we were blind. To me, the writing was on the wall and I had seen enough of Craig trying to carry us. I paid him a visit on the mound and didn’t want to see him go out like that. They (#SheGone) were cheering like they won an at-large bid to the NCAA Basketball Tournament, and I didn’t think he needed to remain on the field if we were going to give it to them.”
The good news for Lee and the Spirits is the move seemed to prove eventful as German replaced Molldrem on the mound and was able to strike out Peterson before getting Hatcher to ground out to end the inning.
The team had a chance to fight back in the bottom half of the inning, but both Sopocy and German went down swinging to Lee Gwaltney, who had replaced Hatcher earlier in the game. Scott eventually grounded out to end the game.
“Not much more to say here,” Lee continued. “No need to kick anyone while they’re down. Winning this game would have been a solid opportunity for us. And to see Craig put together another gem, only to watch it unwind by Little League style play? That was hard to watch. I know my guys are their own worst critics so they don’t need my input. But we’re not going to win (expletive) playing baseball this way. Each guy needs to dig a little deeper if we want to obtain a title. We’ve been close several times and I feel we’re on the verge, but there’ simply no way we’re going to finish if we play defense like this.”
The team returns to action next Wednesday night when they’ll face another challenge in the form of perennial winner, the Redbirds. The Spirits will have to do it with more than half of their starters away playing tournament baseball in Phoenix. First pitch is scheduled for 8:45PM at Texas Star on Legends Field. Click here for more details.