Spirits (40+) Earns Top 4 Playoff Spot After Win Over Mustangs

(July 5, 2023 – Euless, TX) The Spirits (40+) squad picked up a pair of runs in the second inning only to see the Mustangs rally to tie in the third inning before eventually pulling away in with a 4-run fifth innings as the ghosts won the game by a score of 6 to 2. The win puts the Spirits in the top 4 seedings in the DFW-ABA 40 League standings, allowing them to battle for the postseason championship. Playoffs are expected to start July 18th.

Earl German finished 2-for-2 with a pair of runs batted in and the ghosts relied on the arm of Ryan Marsland once again as Marsland picked up the complete-game win, tossing six innings and allowing 2 earned on 7 hits, while walking 3 and striking out 10.

In the bottom half of the second, Shawn Lee singled and Will Nash flew out. Lee moved to second after Eric Goetz singled, and Mike Sopocy loaded the bases after drawing a walk off or Mustangs starter, Scott Baxley. Baxley struck out Aaron Wilson but a single by German scored both Lee and Goetz and gave the Spirits and early game lead before Duane Aponte lost a battle of strikes to end the inning.

The Mustangs tied the game in the third after Cristopher Pritchett singled and Kenny Sooner walked. Jason Cappers singled home Pritchett and another single by Baxley loaded the bases. Marsland struck out Jeremy Greene and a single by Scott Jeffries scored Sooner before Spirits center fielder, David Tipton gunned down Cappers at the plate to stave off a Mustangs lead. Marsland then struck out Matthew Hinders to get out the inning with teams tied, 2 to 2.

The game remained a bit of a pitcher’s duel until the fifth when the Spirits added another 4 runs in what eventually would turn out to be the game’s final score of 6 to 2. Sopocy walked to lead things off and he moved to second following a failed pick off attempt. Sopocy took third and then scored on an error by the Mustangs catcher, giving the Spirits the lead for good. Wilson drew a walk to put another run aboard and a single by German gave the ghosts two on with nobody out. Aponte reached on a fielder’s choice that squeezed German at second base, and after Aponte stole second, Wilson was able to score on a wild pitch to give the Spirits a two run lead. Tipton also drew a walk and one pitch later, Aponte crossed the dish following yet another wild pitch. Tipton eventually stole second base and after Scott flew out, he crossed the dish on a wild pitch from Cappers, who had replaced Baxley on the mound.

Despite two Mustangs reaching base with one out in the sixth, Marsland was able to strike out Hinders again to record the second out. What happened next will likely lead to a bit of a conversation in the Mustangs dugout following the game. Lee, playing second, broke toward the bag as Greene had a large lead. Marsland turned and made a pickoff move and there was a close play but the umpire ruled him safe. With arguably the Mustangs best hitter at the dish in the form of Michael Pierce, the Spirits were willing to give up an opposite field hit from a pull hitter. Greene again took a lead with Lee literally standing at second base. Marsland went into his stretch and this time turned and threw an even faster strike to Lee to pick off Greene, and to end the game.

“Head-scratcher there,” Lee commented afterwards. “Technically, the run didn’t matter to us, but I felt like he wasn’t taking his lead serious enough. I felt Ryan could get the ball there fast enough for us to get him out and avoid any rally from Pierce and it paid off. He didn’t learn his lesson on the first pickoff attempt and the second one ended their chance at a top four seed. We’ll take it. Ryan threw and absolute bullet. It made it fun for us to close out a game that way.”

The Spirits now wait for the remainder of the league to finish up make-up games for the following week. Stay tuned for playoff details, which typically include doubleheaders and back to back nights, including Tuesday night games. Visit the Spirits (40+) schedule by clicking here.

Game Box Score

Next Level Sports Apparel Players of the Game

Earl German (2-2, 2 RBI)

David Tipton (0-1, BB, R, Key Defensive Putout)

Ryan Marsland (6 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 10 K)