(July 20, 2017 – Dallas, TX) With the absence of their ace pitcher available for Thursday night’s match-up against the Brewers, the Spirits (35+) leaned on their trusty veterans and the old dogs were able to deliver. Veteran left-handed pitcher, Earl German went three and a third innings allowing only 4 hits while striking out one to pace Brewers hitting as the Spirits held off the solid-hitting club by a final score of 7 to 4 in NTABL Veterans League play. German was accompanied by perennial all-star, Kirk Sipila, who closed out the final two and two thirds innings after German left with a muscle injury. Sipila was able to hold off two different Brewer rallies, finishing with 3 strikeouts and allowing 2 earned runs.
The scoring began quickly for the ghosts in the top half of the first when Cliff Brade led things off with a single. Brade stole second and Jason Bottenfield reached on a dropped third strike, which allowed Brade to take third. Bottenfield then took second and Brade scored when Sipila grounded out. Brewers pitcher, Bode Wilson was able to get Shawn Lee to fly out and David Tipton went down on swings, however the Spirits led the contest, 1 to 0.
Things remained quiet for the next couple of innings as German and Wilson both tamed their opposing offenses, however the Spirits were able to strike again in the top of the fourth inning when Bottenfield started things off with a single. Sipila then battled an eight-pitch at-bat for another single and Bottenfield scored after having taken second on a passed ball. Sipila then scored on a shot to left-center field by Lee, who cruised into second for a RBI double. Lee advanced to third after Tipton singled and then scored on a sacrifice fly from Eric McPherson. Tipton later scored after Chris Lewis drew a base on balls and John Showalter doubled to left-center. Lewis was aggressive running through the stop sign at third on the Showalter hit, however he was cut down trying to take home to end the inning and after three and half innings, the Spirits were up, 5 to 0.
The ghosts picked up 2 more runs in the fifth after catcher, Patrick Bilgere singled and then advanced to third after a wild pitch and then a balk by Wilson. Brade drew a free pass and later took second. Brade ended up on third after Bilgere scored on another wild pitch from Wilson, and Bottenfield advanced Brade home on a single to cap off the Spirits scoring.
With a 7 to 0 lead moving into the bottom of the fifth, the Brewers rallied for a pair of runs after Jack Sanders singled and Brent Smerczynski doubled to start off the inning. Wilson followed with a single to score both runners but Sipila dug in and was able to retire the next three Brewers hitters. The Brewers made some additional noise in the bottom half of the seventh when Kevin Simmons reached on a Spirits fielding error and Sanders followed with a single. With two on and two out, Smerczynski singled to load the bases and both Simmons and Sanders scored when Wilson reached on another Spirits error. Sipila was able to put the game in check by striking out Stephen Gundrum and the Spirits walked away winners by a final of 7 to 4.
“The guys held it together tonight,” commented Lee following his team’s victory. “We were missing a few big arms and sticks tonight with (Craig) Molldrem and (Travis) Hitzeman out, plus (Will) Nash wasn’t able to make it and he’s been hitting well lately. Credit to all the guys here tonight through. Earl and Sip showed why they’re veteran players with solid pitching and I think the most credit should really go to the defense. They stranded 8 runners tonight and in any one of those innings when they had guys on base, one mistake could have made this more interesting. We trust one another and that’s a solid trait for a team to become successful.”
The Spirits will return to the diamond next Thursday night as they host the Astros at Reverchon Park in Uptown, Dallas. First pitch is slated for 6:30PM.
Waxahachie Autoplex Players of the Game