Slow Start Plague Spirits (40+) Comeback in Opener

(February 28, 2024 – Carrollton, TX) What was a slow start turned into a gaping wound after the Spirits (40+) squad started it’s 2024 campaign down 2 to 0 to the Bisons before giving up a 10-run fifth inning to only saunter back to the dugout down 12 to 0.

“Apparently 10 errors on the field isn’t going to get us a win this year,” team skipper, Shawn Lee sarcastically noted when asked about his team’s start. “We have our moments of playing brilliantly, and we put together a heck of a comeback, but slowly and slowly each season we’re moving towards a ‘beer-drinking’ get together team versus a winning baseball program.”

Lee initially earned the Spirits first hit after breaking up Bisons starting pitcher, Nick Pauza’s no-hitter bid in the bottom half of the fourth with a line drive single up the middle. The celebration didn’t last however, asPauza was able to get Mike Sopocy to ground into a double-play to end the inning.

The Spirits were able to bounce back in the bottom half of the fifth following the 10-run inning by the Bisons by coming up with a 5-run inning of their own after the Bisons replaced Pauza, who had been keeping the Spirits off balance with high velocity in the night’s cold air. After turning to pitcher, Marcus Whatley, the Spirits seemed to settle in at the dish as Whatley gave the Spirits their first base runner free via a walk to Stacy Scott. Shawn Hunt followed with a single and after David Tipton grounded out and Anthony Osburn flew out, it appeared the team would squander opportunity. However, with two on and two out, the offense stayed alive after Jonathan Duran drew a walk and Cliff Brade doubled to clear the bags. Eric McPherson followed with an RBI single and Travis Hitzeman singled to put runners at the corners. Lee followed with an RBI double to score McPherson and unfortunately, Sopocy lost a battle of strikes to strand the two runners aboard.

The five runs gave the Spirits some life and the team was able to shut down the Bisons after James Greer led off with a single to start the sixth. Nathaniel Cogley grounded into a double-play and Scott, in relief of Duran at this point, was able to get Julio Terrones to fly out.

With the league’s two-hour time limit coming into play, the Spirits headed to bat in the game’s final frame as there wouldn’t be enough time for a seventh inning. Scott led things off again and was able to reach on an error. Hunt flew out and Tipton went down swinging but the Spirits once again remained alive with two outs as Osburn drew a base-on-balls and Duran singled to load the bases. Brade followed with an RBI single to cut the lead to, 12 to 6, and a walk to McPherson loaded the bags for Hitzeman.

“Surely, we weren’t going to get a cliche opportunity for a comeback, right?” Lee continued in his post game discussion. “Then of course, Travis (Hitzeman) hits one into orbit and now we suddenly have a chance. I had the best view of it from the on-deck circle, and I thought, great; now I get a chance to blow this thing.”

Lee couldn’t have described Hitzeman’s blast any better, as the big-swinging third baseman pummelled a hanging curveball by Whatley deep into the Carrollton sky to cut the lead down to one run with his first home run of the season; a grand slam no less. That put the pressure on Lee to keep the inning alive. Following a long at-bat that included waiting on baseballs to be thrown into the game, Lee went down swinging on a slow curveball that was dropped by the Bisons catch. Lee took off for first but the catcher was able to recover and throw him out to end the game.

“It figures it turned out this way,” Lee chuckled afterwards. “We get teased with a comeback win and I’m the one who feels like he blows it for the team. I was feeling pretty good tonight. Drew a walk in the first. Broke up the no-no in the fourth, and then had an RBI double during our first portion of the comeback. I didn’t think there was any way that I’d go out like that. But the Baseball Gods have their own agenda. This game can humble anyone at anytime; I’m used to that most nights. It’s disappointing because we had a ton of chances. Leaving guys on base isn’t going to work, but there’s no excuse for 10 errors on the field, and that’s only because we stop counting them at 10. I believe there were more. We’ll have a good laugh and put this behind us. But it still sucks to lose.”

The team starts the season with an 0-1 record and will have the chance to bounce back next Wednesday night when they face the Mustangs. First pitch is scheduled at 6:30PM on Arlington Field at Texas Star Complex. Fans can click here for schedule details.

Game Box Score

Central Roofing and Restoration Players of the Game

Travis “Long Ball” Hitzeman (3-4, HR, R, 4 RBI)

Cliff Brade (2-2, 2B, 2 R, 4 RBI)

Shawn Lee (2-3, 2B, BB, RBI)