(March 28, 2017 – Plano, TX) The Spirits Open (18+) team squared off against the visiting Indians at Plano’s Carpenter Park Tuesday evening. Faced with another potentially stormy night, the only wind and rain produced was powered by the bats of the Spirits offense. Benefiting from a blustery jet stream blowing out to left field, the Spirits offense was highlighted by a pair of 2-run home runs by both pitcher/left fielder, Thomas Stoltz and third baseman, John Showalter.
In addition to the home run, Thomas had a triple and 5 RBI on the night alongside pitching the final 2 innings of play as the Spirits rolled to an 11 to 6 victory. Duane Aponte took the mound in his first appearance donning a Spirits uniform and seemed to pick up where he left off last season with the former Dallas Thunder of the DABA. He displayed his patented pitching skills and ability to be crafty by holding the Indians to just 3 runs; only 2 of which were earned, while delivering 5 solid innings of work.
“Duane is a pitch-to-contact guy. We rely on our defense on nights when he is on the mound,” commented Showalter. “Tonight was no different than some of our games in the past. We had some guys step up, including second baseman Mike Warner and shortstop Nate Maritnez. Both of those guys were tested and rose to the occasion flawlessly. They each had 4 assists on the night to go along with 7 putouts combined. Collin Stacha was also solid with several athletic scoops of a few bad throws to first. When your defense can participate effectively, it helps make winning that much easier.”
The Spirits jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead to start the first two innings of the game, but were held scoreless in the third while the Indians got to work putting up two runs in the top of the fourth to cut the lead down to 4-2. The Spirits answered with two runs of their own as Indians pitcher Cory Press failed to execute the desired shut down inning. The Indians came back to score yet another run in the top of the fifth and they appeared to have a bit of rally going when Ryan Peacock doubled in a run with just one out. With a runner in scoring position and one out, Aponte was able to lock up Andres Sockwell on a late-breaking curveball to record the second out. Then without having to throw another pitch home, Aponte used his ability to fool the Indians base runner by wheeling around to fire a strike to Martinez at short who covered second. They were able to pick off Peacock, putting a dagger into the short-lasted really.
“Peacock was dancing around, wearing himself out while on second base. After a few pick-off attempts he was spent,” mentioned Aponte following the game.
The Spirits were able to extend their lead in the bottom of the fifth when Showalter got a hold of one for a 2-run blast over the left field wall. “It felt good to finally barrel one up and help out the team,” Showalter commented. “We needed to keep the pressure on them. They’re a good team, but tonight was our night.”
Stoltz added another 2-run shot into the left field abyss during the bottom of the sixth inning to extend the Spirits lead to 11-3. It seemed to be over at that point, however the Indians once again rallied in the final half inning of the game with some well-placed infield hits. They were able to add 3 runs, but the Spirits were able to buckle down and close out the game for their second win of the season and their debut within NTABL Open American League play.
Showalter summed up the evening in his post game interview stating, “I could not be more proud of the guys. Our bats showed up when we need them and the wind made handling fly balls a real challenge for both teams. Duane did his best to pitch for ground balls and it worked out great for us. It was a solid team win all the way around.”