(July 26, 2021 – Plano, TX) In hopes of taking at least one game of the season series or following the old phrase, “beating a team three times is difficult,” the Spirits (45+) once again lined up against the first place Cardinals in NTABL Masters (45+) action on Monday night. Hoping to rid themselves of another Cardinals loss, an early 1 to 0 lead that showed hope only turned into another disappointing loss as the ghosts went on to drop the game by a score of 9 to 4.
For the third straight time, it seemed as if there were doubts in the air as the teams took to the field and innings for the most part remained quiet in the literal sense. Minimal chatter could be heard both defensively and offensively as Cardinals starter, Jason New went the distance and picked up complete-game victory. New went all 7 innings, allowing 4 earned off of 12 hits, walked 4 and struck out just one and you would have thought he had a shutout going. Meanwhile, the Spirits offense left 11 runners on base and added a pair of errors in the field to contribute to their own demise.
The ghosts picked up an early lead in the second after David Tipton drew a leadoff walk. John Hefner flew out, but Tipton swiped second to put himself in scoring position. Brant Finchum followed with a single to move Tipton to third and after Chris Lewis reached on a fielder’s choice, Tipton was able to score while Finchum was put out at second and the Spirits had a run on the board before Dan Sosa went down on strikes.
Fast forward to the bottom of the third and the Cardinals took a little advantage of Spirits starter, John Holmquist. Juan Mollinedo singled to lead things off, but Holmquist was able to get Joe Lowry to fly out. Back-to-back singles by Kevin Fought and Jerry Anderson loaded the bases and Jerry Gamez capitalized on the opportunity with a base-clearing triple. Chris Cec followed with an RBI single to score Gamez and the Cardinals had what appeared to be a commanding 4 to 1 lead.
The Spirits cut into the lead after Hefner singled with one out and later scored on a single by Sosa, making to 4 to 2 as the game headed into the bottom of the fourth. Mark Moore reached on a Spirits error and later moved to third on a single by Fought. One wild pitch later, it was 5 to 2, Cardinals.
The Spirits kept the game interesting for a minute, however. As they headed into the fifth, Shawn Lee reached on a one-out single and moved to second after Brian Hackney singled. Tipton flew out but Lee was able to advance to third on the play. He then scored on an RBI single from Hefner and two pitches later, Finchum picked up his second hit on the night to score Hackney and to cut the lead to, 5 to 4.
The Cardinals were not having it however and their bats remained live and well as they jumped onto the Spirits defense with a 4-run fifth. Gamez singled and then swiped second. Two pitches later, he was on third. Cec drew a walk and the Spirits then turned to Sosa for some veteran pitching cleanup. Cec went on to steal second and New welcomed Sosa with a single. Sosa was able to get Mark Tierny to fly out, but Moore followed with a single to pack the bags. Cec later scored on a wild pitch and after both runners moved over, Mollinedo grounded out, but New was able to score on the play. Lowry then doubled to score Moore and it was 9 to 4 the rest of the way.
“Another tough loss to these guys,” Lee mentioned after the game. “The problem I have is that they don’t even look like they’re trying. I mean, this is first place against second place nearly every game and they just roll in and take care of business while we appear to be sitting here ready to hand it over. The road to a championship goes through these guys. I hope we can find it next time, because this ain’t it.”
The Spirits will visit the Dallas Bulls next Monday night at McInnish Park, Field #11. You can click here for schedule details.