Short-handed Spirits (50+) Hang on Against Red Sox

(July 29, 2023 – Irving, TX) With abusive heat and a shorthanded roster, the Spirits (50+) was looking for ways to stay cool and to keep 9 players upright on the field Saturday morning. With temperatures easily bypassing the 100 degree mark, both squads battled to stay hydrated while one team strived to walk away with a victory in DFW-ABA 50 League play.

It was the Spirits drawing first blood, cracking open a 1 to 0 lead in the second, and then later opening that lead to 4 to 0 in the third. An RBI single by Anthony Osburn gave the Spirits the early lead, and then the ghosts tacked on another 3 runs in the third inning after Shawn Lee reached on an error and scored on a double by Kent Fischer. Fischer moved to third when Mike Sopocy grounded out, and a follow up RBI single by Stacy Scott scored Fischer to make it 3 to 0. Scott swiped second base and then later scored on an RBI single by James Hardt to make it 4 to 0.

The Red Sox found their pulse in the fourth however, tying the game after putting up 4 runs of their own. A pair of walks by Scott proved costly as a single by Allan Ward with two outs scored Greg Floyd. Sopocy then walked Willie Jutze to load the bags and a double by Miguel Benitez scored all three runners after Lee lost sight of a routine fly ball to left field due to the Sun being directly overhead. The ball dropped safely and all 3 runners were able to score and help the Red Sox tie the game. Sopocy gave up another walk and a single in the inning before finally getting Floyd on swings to get the Spirits out of the inning.

Todd Murrah singled to lead off the Spirits half of the fourth, and it seemed moot after Jason Price and Dee Mauldin both flew out, but Lee was able to again reach on a fielding error by the Sox and an RBI single by Fischer scored Murrah to break the tie. Fischer was caught stealing to end the inning but the Spirits regained a one run advantage.

Rob Romero doubled to start the Red Sox fifth and Scott’s sixth base-on-balls put two on with nobody out. Lee turned to Hardt to replace Scott in the inning and a sacrifice bunt by Doug Poe recorded the inning’s first out, but also successfully moved both runners into scoring position. Hardt then walked the bases loaded after missing on four straight to ward but he regained his composure and was able to strike out Jutze to pick up the second out. Another walk, this time to Benitez was again costly, allowing Romero to score and to tie the game before Hardt was able to get Bill Hanley to ground out to end the inning.

The Spirits then rallied in the bottom of the fifth after the Red Sox turned to Hanley to pitch. Hanley, normally solid and reliable, struggled with the zone and getting the ball across the plate altogether. Hanley walked both Brian Hackney and Sopocy to start the inning, and a pair of wild pitches allowed Hackney to reach third, putting runners on the corners. Sopocy was then able to move to second on a wild pitch that allowed Hackney to score and break the tie before Scott grounded out. Sopocy was able to take third on the out and later scored after Hardt was hit by a pitch and Osburn scored him with a sacrifice fly. Hardt later scored on an error by Benitez to make it 8 to 5, Spirits before Murrah grounded out to end the inning.

The Red Sox made a little noise in the game’s final frame, adding a run in the top half of the seventh after Ward drew a one-out walk. Jutze replaced him at first after reaching on a fielder’s choice, and Benitez reached again on a walk after Jutze made his way to third following a wild pitch. Lee then turned to Sopocy to close out the game and to secure the win. Sopocy answered by getting the second out of the inning after Hanley reached on a fielder’s choice when the Spirits tried to turn two. Benitez was forced out at second but Ward was able to score to cut the lead to, 8 to 6. Sopocy was then able to set down Brad Bryant looking to end the game.

“That was a rough combination,” Lee commented afterwards. “I thought the strike zone disappeared a few times during the game, but the heat is hot for the umpires too. I’d rather they error on the pitcher’s favor during games like this with intense heat. Our intentions are good when we start, but most of us are ready to get the hell out of here after three innings due to this ridiculous heat. Walks killed us today. That and my inability to see the fly ball that was hit directly to me in left. That was brutal. Damn near hit me in the face. But 9 walks are going to lead to a lot of runs. We should have played better. The game should not have been this close, but we need to face some adversity sometimes and find way to win in those situations. Just happy we did that today.”

Fischer finished the day with a pair of hits including a double, run scored and two runs batted in to lead the ghosts. Murrah added a pair of hits and a run scored, and Scott added a hit, walk, pair of runs scored, RBI, and 3 stolen bags. Scott also added 6 strikeouts alongside 6 walks; allowing 5 earned on 6 hits in the no-decision. Hardt picks up the victory and Sopocy earns the save.

The Spirits return to action next Saturday when they visit the Aces.

Game Box Score

WingStop Players of the Game

Kent Fischer (2-4, 2B, R, 2 RBI)

Todd Murrah (2-3, R)

Stacy Scott (1-2, 2 R, RBI, BB; 4 IP, 5 ER, 6 H, 6 BB, 6 K)