Spirits (35+) Advance to Second Round of Playoffs

(August 23, 2018 – Carrollton, TX) It wasn’t an explosive night of offense for the Spirits (35+) Thursday night, but when they did hit they were certain to make it count. The team collected 8 hits on the night and despite stranding 7 base runners, they went on to prevail over the Knights by a margin of 10 to 2.

Pitcher, Jonathan Duran was on point with 4 innings of solid pitching and Travis Hitzeman delivered 2 closeout innings to add the exclamation point. Duran allowed an earned run on 6 hits, while walking none and striking out 3 and Hitzeman allowed one hit and a single run, no walks while striking out 4.

“The guys looked great tonight,” commented manager, Shawn Lee following the game. “I’m really impressed by the combination of our pitchers to remain calm and our defense to step up when needed. The Knights packed the bags twice and despite giving up one run during one of those occasions, we were able to shut it down and get off the field. I’ll take stranding 9 runners out there any game. We still need to tighten up defensively, but they do step up when called upon, I’ll give them that.”

The Knights mustered a single in the top half of the first that didn’t get anywhere, but the Spirits were quick to get a run across the plate. Cliff Brade drew a lead off walk to start the game offensively for the ghosts and later stole second. Jason Bottenfield went down swinging but a dropped third strike opportunity allowed him to make it to first safely and allowed Brade to advance to third. Brade then scored on a passed ball, which allowed Bottenfield to advance to second to give the Spirits a 1 to 0 lead. Kirk Sipila was called out on strikes and Hitzeman grounded out and it appeared the Spirits might squander a runner in scoring position, but Patrick Bilgere came through with an RBI single to score Bottenfield and to give the Spirits a 2 to 0 lead. Brant Finchum drew a walk, but Knights pitcher Trip Somers was able to set Lee down on strikes to end the inning.

The Spirits picked up another run in the second on an RBI single by Chris Lewis that allowed David Tipton to score after drawing a walk earlier in the inning, but the Knights answered in the top half of the third after 3 straight singles allowed Matt Lawley to score to cut the lead to, 3 to 1.

The Spirits offense bounced back in the bottom half of the inning when Sipila drew a lead off walk and advanced to third on a Knights fielding error that allowed Hitzeman to reach safely. Hitzeman stole second and a sacrifice fly by Finchum allowed Sipila to reach the plate. Hitzeman later score on a bloop single by Lee and after three complete, the Spirits were up, 5 to 1.

The squad broke things open in the fourth after Michael Kubik replaced Somers as pitcher. Tipton reached on a fielding error and stole second and then later made his way to third after Eric McPherson singled. McPherson stole second and later made his way to third while Tipton crossed the dish after Lewis was able to reach safely on another dropped third strike and wild pitch combination. Brade drew a base-on-balls and Bottenfield followed up by reaching base on another Knights fielding error that allowed both McPherson and Lewis to score and the Spirits were coasting. A double-steal allowed both runners to advance and Sipila capitalized with a 2-RBI single to push the lead to 10 to 1 before the Knights recorded an out in the fourth. The next three Spirits went in order, but the damage was done.

The Knights rallied for a run in the sixth, but it was too little, too late as time ran out during the Spirits half of the sixth and the ghouls walked away with a win good enough to advance to round two of the NTABL Veterans League playoffs. The Spirits will now host the Thunderbirds, who edged them in their last contest by a score of, 8 to 7. The game will be held on a Tuesday at Graham Field in Plano, with an 8:45PM scheduled start. Click here for schedule details, to obtain driving directions, or to download the iScore Central app to watch and listen to the game live, online.

Game Box Score

Waxahachie Autoplex Players of the Game

Kirk Sipila (1-2, R, 2 RBI, BB)

Eric McPherson (2-3, R, 2 SB)

Jonathan Duran (4 IP, R, 6 H, 3 K; 1-3)