(March 5, 2022 – Irving, TX) Dust off your eyeballs and get stretched because baseball came early on Saturday. The Spirits (50+) squad took the field at Lively Park in its debut in the DFW-ABA 50+ League and faced an early test against the host Redbirds.
Brian Hackney and Kirk Sipila led the Spirits offense, each finishing with 3 hits on the day, with Hackney adding a pair of runs batted in. Jack Nash and John Hefner each added a pair of hits, with Nash recording a double on the day, but it wasn’t enough as the Redbirds rallied to win the game by a score of 9 to 7.
John Holmquist debuted the season for the Spirits, starting and going 3 innings, allowing 5 earned on 9 hits, and walking two. Newcomer, Mike Sopocy, joining the team by way of Chicago, Illinois also debuted for the team, tossing 3 additional innings, allowing 2 earned on 4 hits while walking and striking out 2.
Kevin Fought and Jerry Gamez led the Redbirds, each recording 3 hits with Gamez adding 3 runs batted in. The Spirits were off to a hot start after adding 4 runs in the top half of the first inning. Sipila singled with one out, and after Shawn Lee flew out to record out number two, the team rallied. Will Nash reached on an error that plated Sipila, and a triple crushed by Chris Lewis scored Nash, and the Spirits held a 2 to 0 advantage. Hackney singled to score Lewis and later moved to second on a wild pitch. Hefner drew a base-on-balls, and a double by Jack Nash made it 4 to 0 before Vince Parello flew out.
The Redbirds cut the lead in half in the bottom of the inning after Fought, Stephen Smith, and Gamez led the game off with singles that scored both Fought and Smith. Holmquist was able to record a pair of outs after Rich Beller reached on a fielder’s choice and Daron Wilkinson flew out. Beller swiped second and Chris Cec drew a walk, and Mark Tierney loaded the bases with a single but Holmquist retired Eric Harris on a fly out.
The game remained a 4 to 2, Spirits lead until the bottom half of the third when the Redbirds tied the game up at 4. Fought led things off with a double, but both Smith and Gamez flew out. Beller singled to push Fought to third, and a single combined with a Spirits fielding error allowed Fought and Beller to eventually score to tie the game up.
The Spirits then added a pair of runs in the fourth to take a 6 to 4 lead after Parello walked and Sopocy singled. Holmquist laid down a perfect bunt to push both runners over, and after Stacy Scott reached on an Redbirds error, Parello was able to score to make it 5 to 4, Spirits. Siplia followed with an RBI single to score Sopocy, and Lee reached on a fielder’s choice that put out Scott at third. Will Nash loaded the bases after he reached on another Redbirds error, but the birds were able to get out of the inning after Lewis flew out.
The game came to within a run after the Redbirds made it 6 to 5 after Tierney drew a leadoff walk and later made his way around the bags after stealing second and moving to hird on a single by Harris. Tierney eventually scored on a ground out by Paul Maust.
In the fifth, the Redbirds took the lead after scoring a pair of runs starting with a Spirits fielding error that allowed Smith to reach base. Gamez singled and the bags loaded after Beller reached on another hit. Wilkinson grounded out but Smith was able to score, and Cec later singled home Gamez to give the Redbirds a 7 to 6 lead.
The Redbirds added another pair if runs in the sixth to make it 9 to 6 with four singles in the inning. The Spirits attempted a comeback in the final inning after Sipila, Lee, and Will Nash each singled. With each of the runners taking a lead, Lewis crushed a rocket to Beller at short and he was able to easily cut Lee off at second to earn a double-play and suck the wind right out of the Spirits’ sails. Hackney followed with a single to score Sipila and Hefner kept things alive with another single but Jack Nash eventually flew out to end the game.
“It was a solid start for us,” Lee commented after the game. “Nobody wants to play at 9AM, but we showed up with some offense. There were a few key errors that really cost us, and we really felt this was a game we could have won. It’s early obviously, and we’re still getting into game shape, so we’re looking forward to the possibilities this roster has. Any time you can show up and get 14 hits? I’ll take it. We just need ”
The Spirits will return to action in two weeks as they first pause to take their (45+) team to the MSBL Las Vegas Kickoff Classic, March 12 to 14. Stay tuned to www.spiritsbaseball.com to learn more about the Spirits, the game schedules, and don’t forget to download the iScore Central app to watch and listen online.