Missed Opportunities Lead to Loss to Diablos

(April 6, 2024 – Carrollton, TX) The Diablos found some revenge against the Spirits (50+) squad Saturday, pulling off an 8 to 6 win to avenge last season’s loss to the Spirits in the DFW-ABA 50 League fall championship. A triple by Dennis Sutton broke a 6 to 6 tie, giving the devils a single run lead before former Spirit, Brant Finchum singled to add a run for insurance. The game was close most of the way but once again, the Spirits finished a game with a handful of fielding errors that contributed to their demise.

Kirk Sipila and Kent Fischer led the Spirits offense, each finishing with a pair of hits on the day. Brian Hackney also added a double and was hit by a pitch, and Mike Sopocy added a single and 2 runs batted in.

After the Diablos took a 1 to 0 lead in the first inning, the Spirits were able to tie things up in the second after Will Nash and Sopocy both drew walks to start the inning. Vince Parello lost a battle of strikes but Fischer followed with a single to load the bases. Hackney grounded out, but Nash was able to score before Kevin Simmons flew out to leave two runners stranded.

The Spirits then rallied for 3 runs in the third after Shawn Hunt led off with a walk and moved to second on a balk call. Stacy Scott singled to move Hunt to third and after Jason Price struck out, Hunt scored on a wild pitch before Chris Allen eventually drew a walk. Eric McPherson flew out but a single by Sipila scored Scott to keep the inning alive. Shawn Lee and Nash both walked, with Allen scoring on the easy RBI for Nash before Sopocy grounded out to end the inning.

The Diablos added their second run in the bottom half of the fourth to cut the score to, 4 to 2 after Bryan Boyd reached on a Spirits fielding error and Randy Lash and Bill Hanley followed with back-to-back singles. Boyd eventually scored when Matt Graves grounded out, but the Spirits were able to get out of the inning after Sutton drew a walk and Finchum flew out with bases loaded.

“Felt like we were definitely in control of our own destiny at that point,” Lee commented after the game reflecting on his team’s lead later in the game. “We just couldn’t close it. A few key fielding errors and a couple of base hits later, we’re losing. It’s always tough to know that in most cases, we beat ourselves.”

With the score still 4 to 2 in favor of the Spirits, the Diablos bats continue to fight in the bottom of the fifth inning when Mitch Grau started the inning by reaching on a Spirits fielding error. Alfredo Mendoza made it two on with nobody out after again reaching on a Spirits fielding error that should have easily been a double-play ground ball. Sopocy, pitching for the ghosts, was able to strike out Charles Carr but Diablo Jovani followed with a triple to ignite the Diablos dugout with both runners scoring and the Diablos now tied with the Spirits, 4 to 4. Raudel Mata singled home Jovani to give the Diablos the lead and he eventually scored following a sacrifice bunt by Maurici Rubio and a single by Boyd before Sopocy struck out Lash to end the inning.

The Spirits clawed back in the sixth, however. Sipila led the inning off with a single and Lee flew out, but a double by Nash put two runners in scoring position with one down and Sopocy came through with a single to score both runners and tied the game, 6 to 6. Parello followed with a single but Fischer lined out and Sopocy was caught in no-man’s land and was easily picked at second for a double-play to kill the rally.

Hanley singled in the bottom frame and that was followed by Sutton’s heroic triple and Finchum’s single to give the game its final score of 8 to 6, Diablos. The Spirits made a tiny bit of noise in the seventh after Hackney led the inning of with a double, but a veteran move by Diablos pitcher, Pilly Sierra caught Fischer, who had been running for Hackney, with his pants down. Sierra stood on the mound and appeared he would pitch from the wind-up. Fischer saw the move and took off for third at the same time Sierra was stepping off. The move worked and Fischer was cut down between bases and the rally was over as fast as it had started. Simmons went down looking and Hunt flew out to end the game.

“We should have been paying attention,” Lee continued. He (Sierra) tries that all the time and tried it to me earlier in the game. We were caught up in some conversation in the dugout and nobody warned Fish (Fischer). No base coaches, nothing. We left him out to dry. You have to play well when you play good teams and we stopped paying attention. Four errors isn’t going to cut it either. This is a game we easily could have won, but as I’ve said before, we beat ourselves. They stuck with it and we literally and figuratively dropped the ball.”

The Spirits return to action next Saturday when they play host to the Freebirds staring at 11:45AM on Field #11 at McInnish Park. Fans can click here for schedule details.

Game Box Score

Central Roofing and Restoration Players of the Game

Kirk Sipila (2-3, R, RBI)

Will Nash (1-1, 2B, 2 BB, 2 R, RBI)

Mike Sopocy (1-2, BB, 2 RBI)