(August 12, 2023 – Carrollton, TX) The Spirits (50+) squad faced off against last year’s champion in the DFW-ABA 50 League playoffs Saturday and onlookers were able to witness offense in action. The teams traded blows, with the Spirits scoring runs in each and every inning from the dish as they went to hang onto a 14 to 8 win over the White Sox in a best-of-three series.
With league scheduling clearly devoid of the 3-digit temperatures and a clear inability to make a common sense decision, the teams were forced to play a doubleheader with the possibility of a rubber match to follow on Sunday. Shorthanded with a handful of players out including the team’s manager, Shawn Lee, the Spirits squared up and never looked back. Lee called onto Jonathan Duran to assist with managing the squad and Duran and company simply got the job done.
Every Spirits hitter reached base safely, collecting at least one hit each as the team rallied for 14 runs off 19 hits while only drawing one walk during the game. Stacy Scott was a perfect 4-for-4, adding a triple, run scored and a pair of runs batted in to lead the offense. Brian Hackney finished with three hits, adding a run scored and 3 runs knocked in. Dee Mauldin scored 3 times and added a pair of hits as did Vince Parello, Mike Sopocy, and James Hardt.
Earl German picked up the victory on the mound, scattering 5 earned runs off 8 hits, while walking 3 and striking out 6. Hardt closed the game, adding 2 innings of work, while allowing just one earned run off of one hit, while walking one and striking out 2.
The White Sox gained an early 2 to 0 lead in the first inning but the Spirits rallied for 3 runs to take a 3 to 2 lead after Mauldin’s triple. Eric McPherson reached on an error that allowed Mauldin to score, and after McPherson moved to second on the play, he later scored on an RBI single by Hackney. Hackney was picked off at first, but Todd Murrah kept the inning alive after drawing a walk. Murrah swiped second base and then scored on another Sox fielding error that allowed Sopocy to reach safely. Hardt eventually flew out to end the inning.
After the White Sox put up an egg despite adding a pair of singles in the second, the Spirits added another pair of runs in the second to take a 5 to 2 advantage. German singled and Scott’s triple scored him. Scott was then able to cross the dish on an RBI single by Anthony Osburn. Parello then reached on a single but the Sox tightened things up and were able to set down the next three Spirits hitters.
The Sox closed the score gap in the forth by adding a pair of runs to cut the lead to, 5 to 4. The first Sox hitter singled but was forced at second after Julio Perez reached on a fielder’s choice. Luis Martinez drew a walk off of German but German rallied to strike out Jesus Morales. A single by Tony Sanchez scored both runners, and the Spirits lead was one before German was able to get Kirk Brookshire to fly out to end the inning.
The Spirits offense was relentless, bouncing back with another 3 runs in the bottom half of the third after Murrah singled and then swiped second. A single by Sopocy moved Murrah to third and one pitch later, Hardt drove in Murrah with an RBI single. German’s sacrifice bunt moved both runners into scoring position and the move proved worthy after Scott singled home both runners to give the Spirits an 8 to 4 advantage. Osburn then lined out to the infield and Scott was picked at second to end the frame.
After German lost a bit of his control in the fourth, the Sox rallied for 3 runs of their own after Craig Bishop was hit by a pitch and German followed by walking both Geraldo Salizar and Kent Affala. A single by Alfredo Ochoa scored both runners before German struck out Roland Lopez to slow the offense down. German then struck out the next Sox hitter before Perez followed with an RBI single to make it a one run ballgame. German then struck out Martinez to get out of the inning but the Sox were once again within a run as the score now read 8 to 7, Spirits.
Punches continued to get traded offensively as the Spirits rallied for another 3 runs in the bottom half of the fourth inning. After Parello flew out, Mauldin singled and then later swiped second base. A single by McPherson moved Mauldin to third, and after McPherson stole second, Hackney followed up with a single to score both runners. Hackney then swiped second and later moved to third when Murrah grounded out to the infield. Sopocy’s RBI single scored Hackney and the Spirits held an 11 to 7 advantage before Hardt was hit by a pitch and German flew out to end the inning.
The Sox added a run in the fifth to cut the score to 11 to 8, but he Spirits rallied for yet another 3 runs in the bottom of the fifth after Scott led off with a single. He was later squeezed at second when Osburn reached on a fielder’s choice, when Parello’s triple revived the cheering in the dugout as Osburn was able to score. Mauldin reached on an error that allowed Parello to cross the dish, and after McPherson flew out, Hackney kept the inning alive with a single. Murrah then reached on an error good enough to score Mauldin before Sopocy grounded out to close the inning with a 14 to 8 Spirits lead.
Hardt was able to hold the White Sox scoreless in the sixth, and despite coming to the plate in the sixth, the game ended due to the league’s 2 hour 30 minute time limit with the Spirits gaining a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series.
“Hell of a win for us today,” Lee commented later. “These guys simply didn’t quit; nor did the White Sox. Good thing we had a time limit or we may have been here all day. The guys were exhausted. That should be printed in capital letters. We have guys over 50 years old out here playing six hours of baseball in the sun and temperatures over 100 degrees. It’s insane. Make a common sense judgement and cut the schedule down to a single game. This is just stupid. But I’ll hand it to my guys, they got after it. I’m mostly thankful nobody was hurt or hospitalized due to this extreme heat. Incredible job by the guys to step up and for Duran to manager. Super proud of my guys.”
After a brief break, both teams took to the field for a second game to determine either a winner or a needed game three.