(June 3, 2023 – Carrollton, TX) The Spirits (50+) squad used a fast start to get a lead, and later added some insurance in heading to an 8 to 3 win over the Cubs on Saturday in DFW-ABA 50 League action.
Kirk Sipila and Brian Hackney each finished with a pair of hits on the day, each finishing with a pair of runs knocked in and Sipila also adding a run scored. Mike Sopocy pitched a gem, picking up the complete-game victory, tossing 7 innings while allowing 3 earned off of 7 hits while striking out 5, and walking 1.
The ghosts picked up 3 runs in the bottom half of the first after Sopocy set down the Cubs in order in the top half of the inning. Eric McPherson led the Spirits offense off with a single and stole second. Shawn Lee reached on an error that allowed McPherson to advance to third. An RBI single by Sipila scored both runners and minutes into the game, the Spirits held a 2 to 0 advantage. Kent Fischer and Sopocy each flew out but an RBI single after Sipila swiped second base made it 3 to 0 when he scored. Anthony Osburn eventually flew out to end the inning.
Sopocy repeated his 1-2-3 work of the Cubs in the second and the Spirits picked up where they had left off on offense after Earl German started off with a single. Steven Nutt reached on a fielder’s choice that squeezed German at second, but the Spirits kept the inning going after Nutt swiped second base and then moved to third when Vince Parello grounded out. An RBI single by Todd Murrah scored Nutt and the Spirits were up 3 to 0 before Stacy Scott flew out to close the inning.
Sopocy made it three 1-2-3 innings in a row in the top half of the third and the Spirits offense continued its scoring with another run in the third after McPherson drew a leadoff walk. McPherson stole second, and then later stole third before Lee singled him home to make it 5 to 0, ghosts. Sipila singled to keep the inning alive, but Fischer flew out and Sopocy grounded into a double-play to end the scoring trend.
The Cubs finally broke the ice for scoring in the top half of the fourth after John Long and Keith Riley both singled. Darren Dietrich made it 3 straight with an RBI single that scored Long. A double by Robert Hickey scored Riley, and Dietrich was able to score after Mike Skaggs grounded out, cutting the Spirits lead down to 5 to 3. Sopocy and his defense were able to recompose, getting Dennis DeCapua to fly out and Bill Lee to ground out to stop the bleeding.
The Spirits went in order in the bottom frame and it appeared their hot offense may have started cooling. The Cubs started the fifth with a leadoff double by Jeff Poteat, but Sopocy refocused and set down the next three Cubs hitters, including a pair of strikeouts to get out of the inning.
The Spirits offense then rebooted when the Cubs turned to Fernando Moreno to replace Michael Paul at pitcher. Nutt welcomed him with a leadoff single and stole second base. Parello drew a walk and a perfect sacrifice bunt by Murrah moved both runners over. The move proved worthy after Scott singled home Nutt and moved Parello to third. Scott swiped second to put both runners in scoring position and a sacrifice fly by McPherson scored Parello before Lee lost a battle of strikes to end the inning.
The Cubs led off the sixth with a pair of singles, but a strikeout by Sopocy to Skaggs and a defensive double-play shut things down for good. The Spirits picked up their eighth and final run in the bottom half of the inning after Sipila reached on an error and Fischer replaced him after reaching on a fielder’s choice that put Sipila out at second. Fischer swiped second base and then later scored on an RBI single by Hackney.
Sopocy and his defense were able to close out the seventh and the ghosts walked away with an 8 to 3 win.
“Nice combination of solid offense and defense in one outing,” Lee mentioned afterwards. “We let them back in momentarily, but Mike was solid the whole game. They got after him a little that one inning and found some holes, but a few nice defensive plays shut them down after that. Sipila always has something to offer and Hackney stepped up nicely today. Good win.”
The team returns to action next Saturday when they play host to Metroflex at McInnish Park, Field #11. Fans can click here for schedule details.