(July 9, 2017 – Dallas, TX) The league-leading Dallas Spirits (18+) squad entered entered play a bit on the rusty side with a potential playoff opponent Sunday afternoon in NTABL Open American League play. It had been two full weeks since the team’s last contest, a victory over the Dallas Orioles and with a playoff spot already secured, the Spirits headed into the game with a relaxed attitude.
Over in the opposing team’s dugout, the Tube Sox were quite the opposite, needing a victory to keep their postseason hopes alive. With a slim lead over the 5th place Renegades within the Open American Standings, the Sox were fighting to remain in the League’s top four teams and an opportunity to play playoff baseball.
The Spirits began the game with their season-long ace, Duane Aponte on the hill and the first two innings of offense for the Sox provided little in the way of any offensive spark. The only hit allowed in the first two frames would be erased by a veteran pick-off move to first base by Aponte. Kameron Wilson singled with one out in the Sox half of the inning, but was immediately sent back to the bench nearly as fast as the ball was returned to Aponte’s glove. As the play completed, the return throw was made to Aponte, who made one step toward the mound before turning and firing to Eric Goetz at first to tag the aloof Wilson out. The Sox were finally able to break through and put a run on the board in the top half of the third inning, when Jacob Stringer reached on a base hit. Helped around the base paths by a Spirits defensive error, Stringer eventually scored on a ground out by Carl Harper. The unearned run was the only run allowed during six innings of work delivered by Aponte.
It took a handful of innings before the Spirits offense found life and put runs on the scoreboard, which began in the fourth when outfielder, Cliff Brade started off the inning with a single. As he’s done many times during the season, Brade quickly turned into a thief by swiping second, followed by third base for his 24th and 25th stolen bases in 19 games of work. Shortstop, Kyle Redinger followed up Brade’s base-snatching heist with an RBI-single to put up the team’s first run.
The score remained 1 to 1 into the sixth inning, and the third time through the Spirits order turned out to be the undoing for the Sox and their pitcher, Fraser Holmes. The Spirits proceeded to bat around, scoring 7 runs on 4 hits and with the assistance of 4 Sox fielding errors. The two biggest hits of the inning included a no-doubt 3-run blast off the bat of catcher, Teddy Croft. Right fielder, Nate Martinez complimented the 3-run home run by adding an additional run with an RBI triple.
With the game firmly in hand and the Spirits leading 8 to 1, pitcher, Thomas Stoltz returned to the mound with an opportunity to close down the game. Due to a number of game rain outs and rescheduling over the past few weeks with the season schedule, it turns out that it had been five weeks since Stoltz saw the opportunity to throw.
“We knew Thomas might be a bit rusty with the long layoff,” commented team skipper, John Showalter following the game. “The goal of this game was for us to allow our guys an opportunity to sharpen their skills for the playoff run not far down the road. The Sox were able to nab a few runs off of him, but we’re happy he was able to get some additional game work as we prep moving forward.”
The Sox managed to put up 3 runs on Stoltz in the top half of the seventh, with the biggest blast of the inning coming from the bat of Holmes, the Sox pitcher. Holmes was able to send a Stoltz fastball over the wall in left field and after the Sox added another pair of runs to close out the inning, the Spirits lead was cut down to 8 to 4.
Before the Spirits had an opportunity to get the runs back in the bottom half of the seventh, the Jesuit Lightning Alert System was triggered by storms that had moved into the surrounding areas. The alert triggered a mandatory 30 minute lightning delay and as the teams waited out the delay, the weather continued creeping in until it was finally decided to call the game due to weather. With the Spirits weather-shortened victory, the team’s record advances to 16-3 with one final regular season game left to be played. The team holds just a half game lead over the second place, Oak Cliff Pelicans who possess a 15-3 record.
The Spirits return to the field Sunday afternoon for the season finale and opportunity to seal a regular season title as they play host to the Dallas Pirates at Reverchon Park at 4:00PM. You’re invited to bring family and friends to the Spirits (18+) Fan Appreciation Day. Festivities begin at 3:00PM.
Waxahachie Autoplex Players of the Game