(June 8, 2022 – Carrollton, TX) Slow starts have become the norm and a quiet dugout has also become a staple in recent contests for the Spirits. This time, it was the Spirits (40+) squad. A team in second place and with full control of its own destiny, quietly playing through games and playing to the level of their opponents.
Not all is lost in this dig. The team finds ways to win. A lot of times, the team collectively gets the job done. But for team manager, Shawn Lee, concerns are looming as the team turns the corner and prepares for the final stretch before playoff baseball.
“I can’t really put a finger on it,” noted Lee. “We can play brilliantly one moment, but then in the next moment we disappear. We’ve been short handed, guys have been injured. There are likely reasons one can come up with to try to diagnose us, but I’m having trouble seeing that ‘winning swagger’ we used to bring to the field. Guys will tell you, I’m the first to freak out. I always do. But this seems different. We need a hug or something.”
Lee’s squad jumped out to an early 4 to 0 lead only to watch it disappear into a tie game after two complete. The Spirits rallied back for 3 more runs in the third, only to give up another pair in the bottom half of the inning. Finishing a game with 6 errors in the field doesn’t typically lead to a win, but somehow the ghosts found a way to keep from totally collapsing.
Heading into the top of the fourth, the Spirits batted around and put up a 7-spot, extending a 7 to 6 lead into a 14 to 6 lead. Lee grounded out to lead off the inning but Bobby Kornhauser singled and scored after Earl German doubled to right. Will Nash walked and both runners moved over on a wild pitch. David Tipton flew out but another wild pitch from Chihuahua’s pitcher, Alph Colvin allowed German to score and Nash to move to third. Shawn Hunt reached on an error that allowed Nash to score, and Duane Aponte kept the inning alive with a single. Eric Goetz singled home Hunt and sent Aponte to third, and both runner scored on a triple by Chris Lewis. Hitzeman followed with a double to score Lewis before Lee struck out to end the inning.
The Spirits added another run in the top half of the seventh to make it 15 to 6, and all that was needed was 3 outs for a victory. Crazy just how hard that can be sometimes. The Chihuahua’s took advantage of Travis Hitzeman leaving the game at third base and began to torch the Spirits infield. Three straight singles that easily could have been recorded as fielding errors were followed by a recorded fielding error by the ghosts, another three singles, and a double before Aponte, the Spirits pitcher, took the next to hitters via the strikeout to get him and his defense off of the field.
“Thankful for Duane (Aponte) that last inning,” Lee continued. “We could find an out if our lives depended on it. Duane struck out a guy in the middle of their hit festival, and I think he finally got mad enough at us to strike out the final two guys. It’s not a pretty way to win but it’s a win. I wasn’t thrilled by the fact that they added subs and sat one of their players and then batted one of the subs third. They essentially borrowed another team’s best hitter and then slotted him three hole. That was horseshit. But we got away with a dub and that’s all that matters. But we’re not beating a good team if we play this way. The box read 6 errors but it was more like 9. Hopefully we’ll get most of our roster back for these remaining games and I can cancel my ‘sky is falling’ celebration. Solid effort by Duane tonight. He was great at the dish too, as were (Eric) Goetz and (Bobby) Kornhauser.”
The Spirits can let this one disappear from memory so they can concentrate on the next contest, which will be in the form of the Killer Bees. Game time is 6:30PM next Wednesday night on Arlington Field at Texas Star. Click here for schedule details.