(March 16, 2022 – Euless, TX) As the spring season continues to figure out whether or not it wishes to show up in Texas or not, the Spirits (40+) offense continues to be the first sign of heat in the area. The Spirits used a 10-hit performance to edge the Mustangs on Wednesday in a game that seemed to be lopsided until the last frame.
A handful of errors let the Mustangs back into the contest, but the ghosts were finally able to put the Mustangs away, and get out with a 6 to 5 win behind pitcher, Duane Aponte. Aponte looked sharp from the get go, but again the team and their pitchers saw questionable strike zones from umpires working DFW-ABA 40+ League games. Aponte finished after 5 innings of work following a minor injury while running out a double he hit later in the game. He only allowed a single unearned run, walked 2, struck out 3, and yielded 3 hits.
The Spirits jumped out to an early 2 to 0 lead in the first after Eric Goetz singled with one out. Goetz swiped second and then scored on an RBI single by Shawn Lee. Lee was able to take second on the throw to the plate and would later score on an RBI single by Bobby Kornhauser before the Mustangs were able to get Aponte and David Tipton to ground out to end the inning.
Matthew Hinders drew a one out walk in the bottom of the inning and after Michael Pierce flew out, Hinders swiped second to put himself into scoring position. He was able to move to third on a wild pitch, and after Stefan Klock reached on a Spirits error, the score was cut to 2 to 1 before Aponte was able to get Michael Dossey to ground out.
The Spirits then erupted for 4 more runs to make it 6 to 1 after Shawn Hunt reached on a one-out single. Hunt moved to second on a wild pitch and later to third on a passed ball. Brant Finchum walked to put runners on the corners, and after Finchum stole second, Hunt was able to score on an error by the Mustangs shortstop when Earl German singled to reach base. Finchum moved to third on German’s single and later scored on another wild pitch. Jonathan Duran went down on swings, but Eric McPherson kept the inning alive with a single to push German to third. McPherson stole second to add another runner to scoring position, but German was able to score the cheap way after yet another wild pitch by Mustangs starter, Scott Baxley. McPherson moved to third on the bad pitch, and you guessed it, scored one pitch later on another passed ball. Lee went down on swings to end the inning, but the Spirits left with a 5-run advantage.
Things remained quiet for the next few frames, but the Spirits got a scare of their own after back-to-back singles by Jonathan Jackson and Luis Calero started the Mustangs third. Hinders went down on swings to slow the inning down for Aponte and his defense, but a walk to Pierce loaded the bags with one down. Klock then reached on a fielder’s choice that saw Jackson forced out at home, and Aponte was then able to get Dossey on another strikeout to get out of the inning.
The teams essentially went 1-2-3 for the next couple of innings less a couple of scatter singles and as it came down to the sixth and final inning due to the league’s two-hour time limit coming up, it appeared the Spirits were on cruise control. With Duran now closing things up for Aponte in the bottom of the sixth, it all looked great after he struck out Pierce to record the first out. Klock followed with a single but Duran was able to get Dossey to strikeout for the third time in the game. With a runner on and two outs, all the Spirits needed to do was get the third out. Devin Inks took to the dish and hit a soft liner to the left side of second. Lee, who was playing shortstop had a bead on the ball but didn’t realize his second baseman, Stacy Scott was also in pursuit. Scott called the ball last second, but Lee couldn’t put on the brakes in time and the ball was dropped in the minor collision. Robert Brown then snuck a ball through the hole that Lee should have gotten to and the bases were now loaded. Baxley followed with a double that cleared the bags and just like that, the score was 6 to 4. Keith Ricci drew a walk from Duran putting the tying run on base. Jackson then followed a roller toward short that appeared would end the game, but Lee bobbled the grounder and all runners were safe due to the error. Baxley was able to score on the play, and with the game now at 6 to 5, Spirits, the tying and winning runs were now aboard. Fortunately for the Spirits, Calero followed with a hot shot to third and Finchum was able to pick the ball and step on third to record the game’s final out.
“Great job by our guys tonight,” commented Lee after the game. “We really played a solid game up until that point at the end. And that wasn’t on them. That was mostly on me. Had I been able to get out Stacy’s way, it was game over. Had I picked the easy roller hit to me up the middle, it was game over. Had I fielded the ball in the hole; game over. Not making it a me thing here, but I feel like I personally took away from what was a pretty good team win. We’ll fix those little things moving forward and hopefully we can learn to put teams away. But we’ll take the W.”
The team returns to action next Wednesday night and they’ll face a test against a Redbirds team that’s had a very slow start to the season. Commonly at the top of the standings or taking home the championship, the Redbirds find themselves in an unusual position of 1-2 in their first two games. First pitch is slated for 6:30PM on Legends Field at Texas Star. Click here for schedule details and be sure to download the iScore Central app to listen online!