(October 10, 2017 – Plano, TX) Pitcher, Duane Aponte was in his 2017 All-Star form on Sunday as he cruised to a shortened, five inning complete game victory after allowing just 3 hits and 0 earned runs on his way to striking out 5 hitters. The Spirits (Trinity) crushed the Texas Smokies by a final of 17 to 2.
The Smokies struggled from the beginning after what appeared may be an exciting start when lead off man, Reese Collins led the game off with a 1-2 double to give the Smokies an immediate opportunity to score with nobody out. Aponte was having none of it as he proceeded to strike out Ivan Vargas and Sean Patterson and then was able to get James Culver to fly out.
Following a 1 to 0 loss to the Nationals in their previous game, the Spirits also appeared to start slowly after Teddy Croft flew out and JR Rivera went down on swings to start the inning with nobody on and two down. The Spirits offense came to life however, after Kyle Redinger and Mike Werner both singled and Eric Goetz followed with a single to score both runners. John Showalter also singled with two out and Aponte reached on an error good enough to score Goetz. After the first inning of play, the Spirits led the game, 3 to 0.
Despite the 3 to 0 deficit, the newcomer Smokies meant business in the second as they were able to cut the deficit down to 3 to 2 after Jame Ocanas reached on a one-out error. Ernest Guajardo followed with a triple to score Ocanas and later scored when the Spirits put out Nicholas Monks on a ground out. The ghosts rallied in the bottom half of the inning however, again getting things going with two outs. Croft singled after Justin Anderson and Craig Molldrem were retired to start the inning and Rivera followed with a bomb over the right field wall to increase the Spirits lead to, 5 to 2.
Aponte picked up a pair of strikeouts in the third as he quieted Smokies bats, while the Spirits remained hot at the plate, picking up another 3 runs in the third. Showalter and Aponte both singled to start things off and both runners advanced after Mike Anderson grounded out. Showalter was able to score after Justin Anderson singled, and both Aponte and Anderson later scored when Croft was good for another singled on the day. After three complete innings of play, the Spirits led, 8 to 2.
In the bottom half of the fourth, it was all over outside the crying as the Spirits unleashed for 9 additional runs to put the game well out of reach. Werner drew a walk and Goetz reached on an error that sent Werner to third. Goetz stole second and then Werner scored on a sacrifice fly from Showalter. Aponte also drew a free pass and Goetz later scored on a wild pitch that was part of a base-on-balls campaign to Mike Anderson. Justin Anderson followed with an RBI single to score Aponte and the bags were filled after Molldrem drew a walk as well. Collins came in to replace Patterson at pitcher, but the route continued after Rivera and Redinger drew free passes to increase the lead to 14 to 2. The Smokies picked up out number two after Werner popped up to the infield, but Geotz was able to reach on an error good to score Croft and Rivera scored after Showalter tried on a pitch to his left arm. Aponte also drew a free pass to score Redinger and the bleeding stopped after the Smokies were able to get Mike Anderson to ground out.
The Smokies made an attempt to rally in the bottom half of the fifth after Guajardo picked up his second triple of the game with one out, however the opportunity was immediately silenced when Carl Tanner grounded out and the Spirits infield turned two by tagging Guajardo out at home for the unusual game-ending, double-play.
“The bats were in high order today,” commented Showalter following his team’s big win. “It was nice to see the guys piece together a couple of innings with two outs. It’s really easy to think you’re going to go in order when the first two hitters go down, but each and every guy on the squad is loaded with confidence and that’s a great recipe in any offensive situation.”
The Spirits return to action on Tuesday, when they face the Orioles for a time and location that is still set as TBD. For schedule details or to watch the game live, online, click here.