(May 8, 2023 – Coppell, TX) It was another slow start for the Dallas Spirits (42+) squad but the engines finally fired up on offense and an 8-run sixth inning help blast the squad back into the victory column in NTABL Masters (42+) League action Monday night at Cowboy Field.
Don Massoud helped carry the Spirits, picking up the complete-game win after allowing just one earned on 3 hits while walking 2, and striking out 3. Massoud also finished 1-for-2, adding a 3-run homerun and a walk to help carry the Spirits on offense. Eric McPherson finished 2-for-2 with a double, walk, run scored, and an RBI, and Earl German reflected those numbers adding a run scored as well alongside 3 runs batted in. Travis Hitzeman finished a perfect 3-for-3, also scoring once.
Raul Ponce led the Hurricanes with two hits while Jamie Byers picked up the remaining hit for the squad. It was the Hurricanes who drew first blood in the bottom half of the first inning after Brad Petty led things off by drawing a walk from Massoud. Terry Helm struck out but Petty swiped second base and moved to third after Ponce singled. A ground ball to the middle infield put Ponce out at second but allowed Petty to score to give the Hurricanes a 1 to 0 lead before Massoud was able to get Michael Madsen to ground out to close the first inning of play.
Hurricanes starter, Jim Crombie did a great job staving off any Spirits offense until the third when the Spirits put a pair of runs on the scoreboard after Shawn Hunt reached on a one out error by the Hurricanes infield. A single by Brant Finchum moved Hunt to second before Mike Sopocy grounded out to first base, allowing both runners to advance to scoring position. German’s double scored both runners and seemed to ignite a rather stagnant and quiet Spirits dugout. German got a bit greedy and tried to swipe third on Crombie, but Chad McCune was able to relay the pitch from Crombie to Ben Northcutt at third to catch German stealing and to end the inning.
In the top half of the fourth, the Spirits rallied for another pair of runs to take a 4 to 1 lead after David Tipton was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. A balk by Crombie moved him to second and McPherson followed with a double to the left centerfield gap to score him. McPherson got greedy on the play and attempted to take third but was cut down after the relay beat him to third. Massoud followed the mishap with a base-on-balls and moments later he was squeezed at second base after Kirk Sipila reached on a fielder’s choice. Hitzeman followed with a single to put two on with two out and Ryan Marsland‘s single scored Sipila before Will Nash flew out to close the Spirits’ half of the inning.
In the top half of the sixth, the Spirits offense put the game away for good after Finchum drew a walk and moved to third following a wild pitch and a single by Sopocy. German picked up another RBI with a single to score Finchum, and the Hurricanes turned to Eric Reifschneider to slow the Spirits offense. Unfortunately, the move didn’t work. Tipton reached on a Hurricanes fielding error that allowed both Sopocy and German to score and Massoud followed with a no-doubt, 3-run blast over the left field wall to add three more runs. Sipila flew out but Hitzeman singled and Marsland doubled to move him to third. An RBI single by Nash scored Hitzeman and a follow-up single by Lester Bedford scored Marsland to give the game its final score before Brian Hackney grounded out and Hunt went down on swings trying to join Massoud in the HR column of the box score.
Massoud made quick work of the Hurricanes to close the sixth and the game was called due to the league’s 2-hour time limit.
“Great work again by th guys,” Lee commented afterwards. “We had to come from behind last time we played them and after another slow start offensively, there was some joking go on in the dugout about doubt and honestly, I think it was real nerves. We’ve been a little lost lately on Monday nights and we need to regain that championship spirit if we’re going to put teams away. But the bats came around and Donny (Don Massoud) was solid on both sides of the plate tonight to help carry us. Overall, a great effort tonight.”
The Spirits will return to action next Monday night when they host the Dallas Cardinals. The Cardinals made it look easy the last time the two teams played, so the Spirits will have some work to do to get past the league’s top squad. First pitch is slated for 8:45PM and fans can click here to see schedule details or to listen live online.