(July 23, 2018 – Dallas, TX) In most cases this season, the Spirits (45+) seems to need a few innings before the offense pulls the trigger in high numbers. The squad has been fortunate at times with late starts that turn into big innings and this past Monday night at Reverchon Park in Uptown, Dallas wasn’t much of an exception, however the team chose to start early and furiously. The Spirits batted through the order in the game’s first frame and tallied 9 runs off of 5 hits, 3 walks, a hit-by-pitch, and a Reds fielding error to coast to victory by a final score of 13 to 4.
Brant Finchum led things off by welcoming Reds pitcher, Huck Hibberd with a double that bounced off the left field wall and instantly gave the Spirits a runner in scoring position. Eric McPherson followed with a single that allowed Finchum to advance to third and Finchum eventually scored on a wild pitch from Hibberd. Kirk Sipila drew a walk and McPherson advanced to third following another wild pitch that hit the Reverchon dirt. Patrick Bilgere sent a sacrifice fly to center that was good enough to score McPherson and Brian Hackney followed with a single to keep the merry-go-round moving. Chris Lewis was then hit by a pitch to load the bases and Jack Nash drew a walk which allowed Sipila to score. Hackney scored on a wild pitch delivered to Shawn Lee and Lee eventually walked to once again load the bases. Reds catcher, Todd Murrah made a pick off attempt at Nash on second which allowed Lewis to advance to the plate making it, 5 to 0 Spirits. Sean House reached on an error and Earl German followed by reaching on a fielder’s choice that squeezed House at second, but allowed Nash to score. German later took off for second base and again the Reds attempted to get the out at second. German was safe on the play and Lee was able to swipe home on the throw. Mark Leemaster then singled to put runners on the corners and eventually stole second before Finchum picked up his second hit in the inning, this time a single that scored both German and Leemaster. With a 9 to 0 lead, the Reds turned to Bill Lee to pitch and he was able to get McPherson on strikes to end the explosive inning for the ghosts.
The Reds rallied for a pair of runs in the bottom half of the inning after T.K. Hayes led things off with a single. Hayes eventually stole second and advanced to third after Stacey Scott hit a one-out single. Sammy Vives drew a walk to load the bases after Chris Duty flew out and a single by Murrah scored Hayes and Spirits starter, John Holmquist handed over run number 2 with a walk to Hibberd.
The Spirits loaded the bases in the second after Bilgere doubled with one out. Hackney followed with a single and Lewis walked. Nash popped up to the catcher and left an opportunity for Lee to get back into the swing of things, but Lee eventually popped out to the shortstop to kill the inning. The Reds rallied for another pair of runs in the second to cut the lead to, 9 to 4 and did so all with 2 outs. Holmquist was able to get Gary Menes and Bobby Michaelides to ground out and Bill Macey and Javier Mendez followed up with back-to-back singles. Hayes reached on a Spirits fielding error to load the bases and Rob Medel capitalized by slapping a single to score Macey and advance the other runners. Mendez would later score on a wild pitch from Holmquist and Holmquist responded by striking out Scott to end the inning.
The score held in place until the top half of the fourth after Scott replaced Lee as the Reds pitcher. Scott was able to get Sipila to fly out, but Bilgere followed with his second double on the evening and later scored on an RBI single by Hackney. Lewis then singled and Nash reached on a fielder’s choice that squeezed Hackney at third. Lee eventually popped up to the catcher for his sixth last-out in two games and consequently the team watched his batting helmet land much further than his ball traveled before the inning ended.
In the bottom of the fourth, Holmquist pulled the plug on himself after giving up a one-out double to Menes and after walking Michaelides. Finchum replaced Holmquist for the remainder of the game and was able to get Macey out on a line drive and able to strike out Mendez.
The Spirits then made it 13 to 4 after German doubled with one out and then later scored after Leemaster grounded out and Finchum picked up his second double on the night. McPherson followed with an RBI triple down the right field line to score Finchum and would later score on a single by Sipila. Bilgere picked up his third hit on the night to put two on with two out, but Scott was able to retire Hackney on a fly ball.
Finchum was able to close in the fifth despite 3 consecutive, 2-out singles by Medel, Scott, and Duty. He was able to get Murrah to pop up to end the game due to league time constraints. Holmquist picks up victory number 6 as he and several others prepare for action in the league’s All-Star games taking place at Dr. Pepper Ballpark in Frisco on Sunday.
The victory pushes the Spirits record to 15-1 with two games remaining on the regular season schedule before the postseason begins. The team returns to action next Monday night as they host the North Dallas Bulls at 6:30PM on Graham Field. Click here for schedule details or to watch and listen to the game live, online!