(August 17, 2017 – Plano, TX) The Dallas Spirits Baseball Club (35+) squad captured its second straight regular season title this past Thursday night as they were able to blank the Dallas Cardinals by a score of 8 to 0. Craig Molldrem and Jonathan Duran combined for a 1-hit shutout as the Spirits finish the regular season in the NTABL Veterans League with a 16-1 record. The team will remain idol next Thursday with a first round bye as the number one seed in the League’s postseason, double-elimination tournament.
After going without a game for three straight weeks, the club was happy to get on the field again against a friendly foe and a talented Cardinals team. Although the game was meaningless in the standings, it was a game that was necessary for the Spirits based on how the schedule has played out.
“Honestly, we’re not thrilled about this scenario,” commented team and club manager, Shawn Lee following his team’s victory. “We’re happy to get a game in tonight, but this is the second year in a row that a game between our club and the Cardinals club has gone meaningless. We’re two top programs in the league and these games should matter. Instead, we stuck facing the wrath of mother nature and rain taking away fields, a bye in our schedule, and then a team that can’t be professional enough to show up and play. I’m not trying to be bitter about it, but it’s just an unfavorable position to be in. I’m hoping to start some conversation with our league to see how we can avoid this issue so my guys are fresh going into the playoffs and these games mean something.”
Despite the layoff, the Spirits looked sharp offensively and behind the arm of Molldrem, they made it look easy Thursday night on Graham Field as the offense unleashed with 20 hits. Second baseman, Jason Bottenfield led things off with a one out single and Kirk Sipila was given a free pass after Cardinals pitcher, Jason Gutierrez appeared to purposely hit Sipila with a 31 mile-per-hour fastball. John Mahalik followed with a single to push Sipila to second and score Bottenfield, and both he and Sipila scored when Travis Hitzeman doubled to the wall. Hitzeman was thrown out trying to stretch the big hit into a triple and with two down, Lee and Molldrem followed with singles, but Gutierrez was able to get Chris Lewis to fly out to kill the inning. After the top half of the first, the Spirits had a 3 to 0 lead.
Molldrem was in buzz saw mode, setting Cardinals hitters down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning, and the Spirits offense picked up where it had left off in the first by tacking on three additional runs in the top half of the second. Patrick Bilgere, John Showalter, and Duran each singled, with Duran’s hit good enough to score Bilgere. Showalter scored on a fourth straight single by Brade, and following the fifth straight single in the inning by Bottenfield, Duran scored and the Spirits led 6 to 0.
Things remained quiet until the fifth when Showalter started the inning with a double. Duran followed with his second hit of the game to score Showalter and Bottenfield and Sipila each singled to add additional runners to the base paths. Duran was cut down trying to score on the single by Sipila, but Bottenfield was able to make his way home when Mahalik tagged another Gutierrez pitch for an RBI single. The score would remain 8 to 0 until the game’s final, despite a double by Lee in the sixth and a single by Molldrem.
Kevin Fought broke up the no-hit bid by Molldrem with a soft line drive to right that fell between second and right field. Due to short rest from Molldrem’s work with the Open (18+) squad over the weekend, Lee turned to Duran to finish up the final inning and Duran was able to set down the birds in order. Molldrem was good for six full innings of work, allowing no runs on one hit while walking two and striking out 7.
With the victory, the Spirits (35+) squad captures its second straight regular season crown and again heads to the league’s playoffs as the number one seed. The team fumbled the opportunity in 2016 after losing a first round to the Orioles when DJ Carassco, now a Dallas Spirit, struck out 13 hitters and hit a homerun in the 3 to 1 dispatching of the ghosts. The team had hoped to make its way back to the championship from the losers bracket, but lost a heart-breaker to the Brewers when Mark Adams was able to score for a 6 to 5 walk-off on a wild pitch strikeout that should have pushed the game to extra innings.
“We certainly remember what happened last season,” continued Lee. “We’ll make the best of this opportunity, learning from mistakes in the past and taking it one game at a time. There are some talented teams in this league and we never look past anyone. We’re excited to bring another championship home in 2017.” The Spirits will host the winner of the Astros vs. Brewers at 6:30PM on August 31st at Reverchon Park in Uptown, Dallas.
Waxahachie Autoplex Players of the Game