(August 13, 2017 – Plano, TX) If there were any nerves brewing for the players on the Dallas Spirits Open (18+) squad prior to taking the field for game one of the NTABL Open American Championship Series this past Sunday, they certainly didn’t show up in the batter’s box. The ghosts exploded for 16 hits against Oak Cliff Pelicans pitching, resulting in a 15-run dismantling of the club, which was seeings its fourth strait trip to the championship.
Craig Molldrem was once again on fire, allowing just one earned run and one hit as he went on to strike out 12 Pelicans in a complete, shortened game that fell to the league’s mercy-rule. Molldrem and second baseman, Mike Werner were both good for 3 hits on the day, each securing a double on a 3 for 4 performance from the dish, alongside a run scored and 3 RBI from Molldrem, and 3 runs scored and 2 RBI for Werner.
In the top half of the first, the game appeared to have a positive start for the Pelicans as lead off hitter, David Stewart drew a free pass from Molldrem. Molldrem evened the count to 1-1, but followed with three straight balls to walk Stewart. The Spirits defense quickly squeezed Stewart at second when Molldrem was able to get Daniel Morrow to hit a ground ball to the infield, but the turn to complete two fell short as Morrow beat out the fielder’s choice to leave one on with one out. Nathan David grounded out as well, but Morrow made it to second safely and the Pelicans had a runner in scoring position in the game’s first half-inning. Kevin Beck then drew a walk to load the bases, and in a strange turn of events, Molldem mowed down Stephen O’Roark on a strikeout, however the ball hit the turf and bounced away from catcher, Nate Martinez. O’Roark beat out the missed third strike and Morrow was able to score to give the Pelicans a 1 to 0 lead. Molldrem followed by striking out Vance Woodruff to kill the inning.
The Spirits wasted no time earning the run back in the bottom half of the first. Cliff Brade grounded out to start the game, however JP Seider took advantage of a late lineup move to the number two hole by singling to put one on with one out. Collin Stacha drew a walk and Seider scored when Kyle Redinger hit a hard single to left-center. Werner also followed with a single to score Stacha and the Spirits were in business, leading 2 to 1. Third baseman, John Showalter continued the merry-go-round with a single up the middle to score Redinger, and Molldrem stepped in and clubbed a double to the right-center field wall that was good enough to score Werner. Carl Suverkrop followed with yet another single to score Showlater, and Molldrem later scored on a sacrifice fly by Duane Aponte. Pelicans pitcher, Anthony Butler was finally able to stop the bleeding by getting Martinez to ground out, but the damage was done and the Spirits led 6 to 1 after one inning complete.
The game remained quiet for the next 4 innings, with both teams providing some shut down pitching and defense. Molldrem struck out 7 of his 12 hitters during this stretch, and the Spirits offense revived itself in the bottom half of the fifth when Martinez led off the inning with a single. Martinez advanced to second on a wild pitch and then took third on a single by Brade. Seider followed by grounding out, but was able to plate Martinez and move Brade to second while doing so. Brade quickly stole third and then scored on a single by Stacha. Butler was able to get Redinger to fly out, however Werner followed with a double to advance Stacha to third. With two runners in scoring position and only one down, Showalter loaded the bases after wearing a Butler pitch. Molldrem followed with a single to score both Statcha and Werner and after five complete innings, the Spirits led 10 to 1.
The Spirits picked up 5 additional runs in the bottom of the sixth after Martinez was hit by a pitch by new pitcher, Michael Elefante. Brade followed with a single, pushing Martinez to third, and both runners scored after Brade swiped second and Seider hit a single to left-center. Elefante was able to get Stacha to fly out, but Redinger and Werner followed up with tag-team singles to score Seider and both runners later scored after Elefante delivered a wild pitch to Showalter, who then grounded out but was able to push in Werner. Molldrem picked up his third hit on the day, but Elefante was able to get Suverkrop on a questionable called strike three and the Spirits were in mercy-rule contention with a 15 to 1 lead.
Molldrem wasted no time on the early exit opportunity by striking out the side to complete the shortened game. With the 15 to 1 victory, the Spirits are just one win away from capturing their first title in NTABL Open American League play during their inaugural season.
“I’m not really sure where to start,” commented Showalter following his team’s big win. “I mean, every single member of our game was firing on all cylinders today. I’m extremely pleased by the composure of the guys today. They took the field facing a team like the Pelicans, a solid ball club with some of the best players in North Texas, and it seems as they’re as comfortable as if we’re holding a team practice. That’s no jab at the Pelicans. We know what they’re capable of and they put one on us earlier in the season, but when you’re team is playing this well, it’s going to be hard to lose. Craig was just awesome today, both on the hill and offensively. All of the guys were on fire. Every single player contributed offensively and that’s just insane. We look forward to winning this thing on Tuesday.”
The team returns to action with the possibility of sealing the NTABL Open American League title on Tuesday night when then return to visit the Pelicans at Jesuit College Preparatory. First pitch is slated for 7:00PM and you can get more details or watch the game online by clicking here.