(April 12, 2023 – Carrollton, TX) It was seemingly a team on cruise control and off to what appeared to be an easy win over the Mustangs, the Spirits (40+) squad could only sit and watch as the Mustangs rallied with a 9-run fourth inning to overcome a 6 to 0 Spirits lead, and eventually walking away with a 9 to 6 win.
The Mustangs rallied for 8 hits, added 2 walks and a hit batsmen to put up a 9-spot on Spirits starter, Jonathan Duran who was replaced later in the inning by Mike Sopocy. Michael Dossey tripled twice in the inning to cap the rally.
A walk to lead off the game eventually turned into a 1 to 0 Spirits lead after Cliff Brade drew a walk, stole second and later scored when Kirk Sipila grounded out. Duran set the Mustangs in order in the bottom frame and the Spirits offense picked up another 4 runs in the top half of the second after Eric Goetz reached safely on a dropped third strike. Goetz stole second and then scored on an RBI single by Duane Aponte. Shawn Hunt walked, and Sopocy singled to score Aponte. Stacy Scott reached on a fielder’s choice that put out Sopocy and moved Hunt to third, and Hunt was able to score later after an RBI single by David Tipton.
The Spirits made it 6 to 0 in the third after Brade drew a one-out walk and moved to third on a wild pitch. Eric McPherson walked and Brade later scored on another Mustangs wild pitch. Sipila was hit by a pitch to add another runner for the Spirits, and a double by Travis Hitzeman scored McPherson before Goetz flew out and Aponte grounded out to end the inning.
“I thought we were cruising along,” Spirits skipper, Shawn Lee commented after later being questioned about the impending Mustangs rally. “Duran looked good, we were scoring each inning and then suddenly, all hell broke loose. I’ll be honest, and every manager thinks this way when things go south, but Duran had a no-hitter going until the fourth. He had two strikes on their leadoff hitter, tosses one down the middle and it’s called a ball. Guy hits a triple. Exact same scenario occurs with the next hitter. It may be my opinion, but the strike zone absolutely disappeared. He couldn’t get a corner, a call, nothing. It’s not like we kicked it around. They hit the ball and capitalized on every opportunity and we couldn’t seem to make a play. We couldn’t find an out. But in my guy’s defense, he had to throw the damn thing right down the middle.”
The Mustangs put together an 8-hit inning, with 2 triples, 2 doubles, 4 singles, a pair of walks, and a hit batsmen. After the dust settled, the Spirits slacked jaws and concerned faces were all that remained. The team couldn’t find a rally in the top half of the fourth and the game came to a close due to the leagues two-hour game time limit.
“It really sucks to lose like this,” Lee continued. “But we have to give them credit. They showed up after a really slow start and hit the ball well, making the best of each at-bat and scoring opportunity. It was hard to watch. Lesson learned. We need to close out games or make moves earlier.”
The team returns to DFW-ABA 40 League action next Wednesday when they face top-seeded #shegone, a team consisting mostly of former MLB and MiLB players. Fans can click here for schedule details or to download the iScore Central app to listen online.