(May 5, 2021 – Euless, TX) The game was already setup with an exciting plot seeing as the Spirits (40+) squad was facing off against the league’s top team. In the previous match-up, the Spirits held control of the game for 6 innings with a 7 to 1 lead only to watch that lead dissipate when the Redbirds scored 12 runs in the bottom half of the sixth and send the Spirits home senseless. But the scene would be a little different this evening as the ghosts returned for match-up number two with the top-seeded birds, this time with their ace pitcher, Craig Molldrem.
Molldrem has become a household name in most of the DFW area leagues. The hard-throwing former MLB talent has played on a number of teams in recent years and the Spirits were happy to have him return to even out the talent level on the playing field against one of the Dallas-Forth Worth area’s best teams, if not the best team. As expected, Molldrem didn’t disappoint. He went the distance, staving off 3 earned runs against 7 hits while walking 4, and striking out 7. The Spirits offense was solid, rattling Redbirds starting pitcher, Dustin Harrison for 10 runs (8 earned) on 9 hits and picking up another run and 4 hits off of closer, Jerry Anderson to cruise to an 11 to 4 victory.
Eric McPherson led off the game with a single and was squeezed at second after Kirk Sipila reached on a fielder’s choice. Travis Hitzeman followed with a double to push Sipila to third and a ground out by Shawn Lee scored Sipila and moved Hitzeman to third before Molldrem went down on swings to end the inning. The Redbirds tied the game at 1 to 1 after Joe Lowry drew a lead off walk. Kevin Fought went down on swings and a moment later, Molldrem picked off Lowry at first with a throw so quick that Lowry didn’t even move from his lead. Jerry Gamez then singled and moved to second on a wild pitch. He was then able to score on a long single by Phil Bosco and the game was tied before Molldrem set down Anderson on strikes to end the inning.
The Spirits offense then opened up for 4 more runs in the second inning after Eric Goetz led the inning off with a walk. Goetz swiped second and Shawn Hunt followed with another walk to put two on with nobody out. David Tipton was then hit by a pitch to load the bases and a single by Brant Finchum scored Goetz to make it 2 to 1, Spirits. Stacy Scott followed with an RBI single of his own to score Hunt and after Earl German reached on a fielder’s choice that squeezed Scott at second, Tipton was able to score to make it 4 to 1, Spirits. Finchum was able to cross the dish on an errant throw by the Redbirds defense before Jonathan Duran grounded out and McPherson went down on strikes. The Redbirds quickly made it clear that it was going to be a game after adding 3 runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning to cut the score to, 5 to 4. Harrison led off the bottom half of the inning with a single. Harrison was able to move to second on a passed ball and then scored on a single by Chris Cec. Cec swiped second and moved to third on a single by Mark Tierny. Cec would then score after Tierny purposely got caught in a run down between first and second to give the Redbirds another run. Molldrem then struck out Dennis Powers. Lestor Bedford drew a walk on a disappearing strike zone and a single by Juan Mollinedo put two on with two out. Eric Tonips then reached on a Spirits fielding error that allowed Bedford to score before Lowry grounded out to end the inning.
In the top half of the third, the Spirits offense returned to action, this time putting up 4 more runs to grow their lead to 9 to 4. Sipila led off with a single and moved to third on Hitzeman’s second double of the night. Lee drew a walk to load the bases and Molldrem was hit by a pitch to score Sipila. A sacrifice fly by Goetz scored Hitzeman and a single by Hunt scored Lee. Tipton reached on a fielder’s choice that squeezed Hunt at second and moved Molldrem to third and an error by Gamez at shortstop allowed Molldrem to score and Finchum to reach safely before Scott grounded out to end the rally. Molldrem then made quick work of the Redbirds in the bottom half of the third despite a walk by Gamez and a single by Anderson. The Spirits held the Redbirds scoreless and held their 9 to 4 lead moving into the fourth.
German led things off with a walk, but Harrison was able to strike out Duran and get McPherson to fly out. Sipila followed with another single and Hitzman’s third double on the night moved the runners and scored German to give the Spirits a 10 to 4 lead. The Redbirds then turned to Anderson to slow the bleeding. Anderson was able to retire Lee on a fly ball to end the Spirits inning. Molldrem then picked up another strikeout against Cec and was able to get Tierny to ground out. Powers reached on another Spirits fielding error and after Bedford drew a walk, the Redbirds seemed poised to plate another run, but Molldrem struck out Mollinedo to end the inning.
Goetz reached on a one-out single in the fifth and moved to third after a pick-off move by Anderson made its way to right field. Hunt went down swinging, but Tipton kept the inning alive with an RBI single to score Goetz to make it 11 to 4, Spirits. The Redbirds went in order in the bottom half of the inning and despite a pair of singles by German and Duran in the top of the sixth, the Spirits weren’t able to bring anyone home. Molldrem closed up shop by getting Gamez to fly out and then striking out Bosco before Anderson flew out to end the game. The game was called due to the league’s two-hour time limit.
“Great win for us tonight,” Lee commented. “The Redbirds basically consist of the all-stars from around the metroplex so a win over this team is always a great win for someone, albeit far and few between. We were lucky to have Craig (Molldrem) back and our offense was clicking tonight. Hell of a game by Hitzeman and Sipila always helps carry us. Great to see everyone’s bat getting it done. We’ll enjoy this one and move onto the next one. The Redbirds will have a short memory of this one and will continue to be a solid opponent.
The Spirits return to action next Wednesday night when they host the Cubs at Texas Star, Arlington Field. Game time is scheduled for 8:45PM and you click here for schedule details or to download the iScore Central app to listen to the game live online.