(October 27, 2021 – Euless, TX) In DFW ABA 40+ Fall League baseball, games are limited to 2 hours and there’s a certain expectation of common sense to occur depending on the scenario. Unfortunately for the Drillers, that common sense was lacking when the home plate umpire decided there was “time on the clock” as the Spirits (40+) Fall Ball squad had completed locking up what appeared to be a 7 to 5, come-from-behind victory as the bottom of the sixth inning closed out Wednesday night at Texas Star.
As it would turn out, the Spirits were provided another at-bat and the game continued at 10:45PM, where the ghosts put on a hitting exhibition for the next 45 minutes. Every Spirits hitter reached safely with only one not earning a hit. Three Spirits added a pair of hits on the night, including Eric McPherson, Shawn Lee, and Chris Lewis. Earl German, Will Nash, and David Tipton each added 3 hits and following a 13-run top of the seventh inning explosion, the squad walked away with a 20 to 5 win.
“Not sure what we can say about this one,” Lee commented after the game. “We started off really slow. Defensively, especially. We clawed our way back into the game and it was fun after the bats came alive and we got the lead back for good in the fifth. But when we were ready to pack up and head home, the ump indicated we still had time left. What happened after that? Well, I’ll take it any day we can do it. But I did feel a bit for our opponent. Not in a pity way. The Drillers are a great team. We just felt we had got the best of them and it was over. Time to go home. But suddenly all hell broke loose.”
It was the Drillers striking first, adding 4 runs in the bottom of the first inning after McPherson reached on an error in the top half of the inning, only to watch the next three hitters go in order. Mark Lamkin then reached on a very slow line drive that fell at the shoes of Lee at short and the Drillers had a runner on. A single moved him to second base and he later scored on a ground out. German, the Spirits staring pitcher, was able to get Paul Taylor out, but Brad Johnson singled and Manny Garcia doubled to score two more runs and after the dust settled, the Drillers had 4 runs across the plate.
The Drillers made it 5 to 0 in the second and as the teams headed into the third, the quietness at Texas Star seemed deafening as no fans and no sounds filled the air with the exception of a ball hitting the mit each pitch and a few cracks off of the bat. But the Spirits found some signs of life in the top half of the third when German singled with one out. Jonathan Duran flew out, but McPherson kept the inning alive and the Spirits picked up their first run after McPherson doubled to score German. Eric Goetz grounded out to end the inning, but the Spirits broke the ice and were now trailing, 5 to 1.
After setting the Drillers in order in the bottom half of the inning, the Spirits returned to add another air of runs after Lee tripled to the left-center field wall. Lee scored on a sacrifice fly by Aaron Wilson to cut the lead to, 5 to 2, and Nash continued the inning by adding a double. Tipton followed with a double to score and then replace Nash at second. Shawn Hunt was then hit by a pitch and Lewis followed by reaching on an error to load the bases. Drillers starter, Bill Downing was able to get a double-play to kill the rally after Stacy Scott hit a hard line drive to the right side. The Spirits dugout cheered momentarily, but the Drillers second baseman was able to glove the ball and then make an easy throw to double-up Lewis at first after he had jumped off the bag at the crack of the bat.
The Spirits defense was able to once again set the Drillers in order in the top half of the fourth and in the top half of the fifth, they picked up right where they had left off. The Drillers turned to left handed pitcher, Brad Johnston to slow things down, but the left-hander had some issues with control. German drew a leadoff walk and Duran followed suit by drawing another base-on-balls. McPherson made it 3 in a row to load the bags and the fourth straight walk to Goetz allowed for a merry-go-round RBI pushing Scott to the plate. Lee was able to reach on a ground ball up the middle the retired Goetz at second, but Duran was able to score on the play and McPherson moved to third. During the next pitch to Wilson, Lee paused before making an attempt to steal second in a fashion to bait the throw to second and it worked. As Lee locked up the brakes, he fell to the turf and the Drillers second baseman gave chase. Lee was able to get back on his feet and during the pickle, McPherson took off for home. The pickle was interrupted for the throw home, and the errant toss allowed McPherson to score and for Lee to move to second, giving the Spirits a 6 to 5 lead. Nash then followed with a single to left-center and Lee was able to score on the play to give the Spirits a 7 to 5 advantage before Tipton grounded out and Hunt went down on swings.
The Spirits again finished the Drillers 1-2-3 in the bottom of the fifth. Lewis then singled before Scott went down on strikes. German doubled to the gap in left-center to push Lewis to third, but Duran went down looking and McPherson grounded out, voiding any insurance opportunity. Despite a single by Paul Taylor in the bottom half of the inning, German and company were able to retire the side without any issue.
Enter the game time discrepancy. As the Spirits cleared the field and headed back to the dugout, this is when it was determined that the game would continue. It appears that perhaps it would be a decision that the Drillers would later regret. The Spirits then sent 18 hitters to the plate before it was over. After a pair of walks to Goetz and Lee, Wilson reached on an error to load the bases. Nash followed with a single to score Lee in what would be 4 straight hits. Tipton singled to score Wilson. Hunt singled to load the bases. Lewis singled to score both Nash and Tipton and the Drillers had to give up on Johnston, going back to original starter, Bill Downing. Scott welcomed back Downing by drawing a walk, and German, Duran and McPherson each singled to score Hunt, Lewis, and Scott. Goetz was then able to reach on a fielder’s choice that cut down German at the plate and after 11 straight Spirits hitters reached safely in a row, the Drillers had the first out of the inning. Lee was then able to earn a single to reload the bags and score Duran, and a follow up double by Wilson scored both McPherson and Goetz. Nash was then hit by a pitch, and Tipton reached on a fielding error that allowed Lee to cross the plate. Hunt reached on a fielder’s choice that forced Nash out at third, but allow Wilson to score and Downing was finally able to get Lewis swinging to end the inning.
The Spirits turned to Duran to close things down and he struggled with his first hitter, allowing Garcia to draw a walk. Garcia was forced at second when Eric McDuffie reached on a fielder’s choice and Duran was then able to get Will Nicholson to fly out and he added the exclamation point by striking out Eric Craft to end the game.
The win pushes the Spirits to third place in the DFW ABA 40+ Fall League standings with just one regular season game to go, and also caps off a 4 game winning streak which saw the Spirits outscore their opponents by margin of 67-7. The team faces off against the Red Sox next Wednesday night starting at 8:45PM on Arlington Field at Texas Star. Click here for schedule details.