(May 1, 2023 – Coppell, TX) It’s hard to put a finger on this one. Queue up that perplexed emoticon and perhaps that’s all this story should contain. Despite an anemic night of offense for the Spirits (40+) squad, the team held a 2 to 0 advantage heading into the top half of the seventh inning on Monday night only to watch it disappear again and for another game to slip away into the loss column. For the second straight week, the team absolutely melted down and watched another team take a victory from them.
“I don’t really have anything I can say that’s going to cheer up anyone nor make sense of what happened this evening,” a rather unhappy, Shawn Lee muttered on his way back to his vehicle. “This sucks. They know it. I know it. What’s going to change. Should I cheer louder? Slap butts on the way in and out of the dugout? Make plays. Win the game. That’s all that needs to be understood. But we tip-toe out to the field at the end of games and don’t close. We’re an average, adult beer-drinking baseball team. It’s time to just accept things as they are.”
The Spirits put up a pair of runs in the first inning and then disappeared from the plate the remainder of the game. Reds pitcher, Alph Coleman, a player with some former pedigree kept the Spirits hitters off balance with a mix of slow but hard-breaking curveballs and offspeed pitches that simply left the Spirits bats clueless. On the hill for the Spirits, hard-throwing Ryan Marsland going the distance. Marsland allowed just 2 earned runs off of 5 hits but walked 6, although striking out 11 Reds hitters.
In the first inning, Eric McPherson walked and Will Nash singled. McPherson later scored on a wild pitch from Coleman and after Marsland singled and the ball was overthrown to third, Nash was sent home on a play that likely should have been held up. Nash was tagged out after Reds catcher, Todd Murrah recovered the ball and relayed to Coleman at home to tag Nash out at the plate.
“Don’t get me started on base running,” Lee continued. “We’ve even tried to have a grown discussion about it. We simply do not know how to run bases or more likely, misunderstand our individual speeds; self included.”
Marsland would later score on a sacrifice fly by Travis Hitzeman and that was it for Spirits scoring. It appeared Marsland and company would go the distance and win the pitcher’s duel, however as the team took to the field for the game’s final inning on defense, that doubt was louder than the silence from the players at their positions, hoping Marsland would earn the win himself. Gary Jackson hit a hard grounder to the left of second base that Mike Sopocy fielded on the run. His throw to first unfortunately missed Brian Hackney at first and the Reds had a runner aboard. Jackson eventually stole second base and Marsland lost the battle on strikes and walked Stacy Scott. A routine grounder to Sopocy was mishandled and the Spirits missed out on an easy double-play opportunity that allowed everyone to be safe. Jackson then scored after Marsland walked Daniel Washington on an arguably missed strike three call. Lightning then struck in the form of Marlson Woods who doubled to left centerfield, clearing the bases to give the Reds a 4 to 2 lead. David Tipton made a great diving play to stop the ball from rolling to the wall but the damage was done. Woods moved to third on a wild pitch before Marsland struck out Steven Nutt. The Reds then picked up another run after Brett Baker hit a slow grounder to Hackney at first. Hackney made a throw home to Lester Bedford at the dish, but Bedford caught the ball and kept his foot on the plate, failing to tag Woods who would easily been out. It appeared Bedford was thinking force out. Baker was safe at first and the Reds now held a 5 to 2 lead. James Roberts followed with a single but the Spirits were able to double-up Murrah to stop the bleeding.
Unfortunately, the Spirits offense could only muster 3 ground balls the next inning and the game was over.
“Brutal,” Lee noted, wrapping up his post game tirade. “We appear to be in an identity crisis. Not sure what I can do to fix that. Each guy needs to step his game up and needs to care about a win rather than just showing up to play.”
The team will need to recover quickly as they face the Hurricanes next Monday night. The Hurricanes were in a position to win just three weeks ago before the Spirits picked up a late inning win after some help from the Hurricanes pitching staff. First pitch is slated for 6:30PM at Cowboy Field in Coppell. Fans can click here for schedule details.