(April 6, 2022 – Euless, TX) It wasn’t anything they did at the beginning this time, but the end result was the same story for the Spirits of recent. The team held a lead the entire game and then proceeded to hand it over to their opponent once again on Wednesday night as the Spirits (40+) squad let another win slip from their grips, falling to the Fighting Chihuahuas by a score of 7 to 6.
The offense started off on the right foot in the first inning after Eric McPherson led off the game by drawing a walk. McPherson swiped second to put himself into scoring position, and the move paid off as Kirk Sipila filled the unoccupied bag at first after earning an RBI single. Shawn Lee flew out and Bobby Kornhauser was hit by a pitch to put two on with one out, but Will Nash also flew out and it seemed the Spirits may waste a golden opportunity to add another run. Eric Goetz followed suit with an RBI single to score Sipila, and it was 2 to 0, Spirits before Duane Aponte flew out to end the inning.
Things remained quiet until the bottom of the second inning after the Chihuahuas were able to cut the lead in half after a Spirits fielding blunder on an easy infield pop-up lead to a runner with two outs. A follow up single put two runners on with two outs and the dogs capitalized on the situation after Aponte, the Spirits starting pitcher walked the next hitter. Team captain, Mercedes Mendoza came through with a single to score Jacob Rankin and the lead was cut to, 2 to 1 before the next Chihuahuas hitter grounded out.
The minor rally didn’t last long however, as the Spirits added another pair of runs in the third after Jonathan Duran and McPherson both singled. Sipila flew out and Lee went down on swings, but Kornhauser came through with a single that allowed both Duran and McPherson to score before Nash flew out to end the inning.
The Spirits saw an additional scoring opportunity disappear after Goetz led the inning off with a single and then stole second base. Aponte was then able to reach base on a fielder’s choice but Goetz made the mistake of leaving second on an easy grounder hit to the shortstop and was tagged out at third on the play. Shawn Hunt flew out and Aponte went on to steal second base before Earl German drew a walk, but Stacy Scott flew out and the Spirits missed the chance to increase their lead.
In the top half of the fifth, the Spirits made it 5 to 1 after Duran reached on an error and McPherson singled to move him to third. The Chihuahuas turned to former double-A player, Alph Colvin to pitch and his off-speed pitches seemed to keep the Spirits off balance. McPherson was able to swipe second to put both runners in scoring position and for some reason, the same scenario of an infield grounder cut down an opportunity for the Spirits as Sipila grounded to the shortstop. Duran was able to score on the play, but McPherson took off for third and was easily tagged out on the play. Both Lee and Kornhauser flew out and the Spirits were only able to pick up a single run in the inning.
“We do this to ourselves a lot,” Lee commented afterward and reflecting back on the game when his team had the lead. “Our little mistakes build up. We start to have looks of doubt with players shaking their heads wondering why they made a certain play they did or why they didn’t do something another way. It’s not a rip, we’re all human. I certainly make my share of blunders. But we can’t be making mistakes on the basepaths. Not when we’re in position to score. We seem to exacerbate that somehow with something else that compounds the situation, hence the phrase, ‘Spirits inning.’ We just have to do better.”
Hope came in the form of a pair of runs for the Chihuahuas in the bottom half of the inning. The first two hitters reached on Spirits fielding errors and just like that, it appeared things were starting to slip for the ghosts. A fielder’s choice squeezed the runner at second for the Chihuahuas, but another error allowed for a run to score before Brandon Mitchell singled to keep the base paths busy. Aponte was able to strike out David Harrison, but another single by Ken Earp loaded the bags and a passed ball led to another run before Aponte struck out Juan Norat.
With a 5 to 3 lead, the Spirits picked up what appeared to be an insurance run as Goetz reached on a one-out error and Aponte also reached on another Chihuahuas error. Hunt made it 3 straight errors and with bases loaded, German grounded out but it was good enough to score Goetz. Scott ended the inning with a line shot that was unfortunately hit straight to the Chihuahuas defender and the Spirits had themselves another pair of runners left on base.
Moving into the bottom of the sixth and with the league’s two hour time limit coming into play, the Spirits felt comfortable with a 6 to 3 lead. That comfort zone wouldn’t last long. The dogs put their lead off hitter aboard with a walk, but Aponte rebounded and was able to get Rankin to fly out. The next Chihuahuas hitter singled to put two on with one out and a double by Junior M scored both runners and the lead was cut to, 6 to 5. Mendoza then singled, but Junior was able to cross the dish to tie the game following an error by Aponte. The next hitter recorded out number two, but wait for it, a Spirits error led to another safe base runner and allowed Mendoza to cross the dish to give the Chihuahuas a 7 to 6 lead before Harrison grounded out.
Despite the umpires best effort to bail on the game, both teams were able to talk them back as there was still time on the “game clock.” The Spirits returned to the dish but it wasn’t in the cards as Duran and McPherson flew out. Sipila kept hope in the Spirits dugout after reaching on an error, but Lee flew out to end the game and the Spirits were looking at another giveaway loss.
“Credit the Chihuahuas from hanging in there,” Lee continued. “Six errors, nine players left on base. We did this one to ourselves in my opinion. A lot of us laid eggs at the plate as well. That can’t happen. We have a small group of players carrying us and we need to find a way to spread the love offensively. I take responsibility for my no show at the plate tonight. I did nothing to help our team win. Hopefully we’ll start gelling and putting it together soon.”
The Spirits return to action next Wednesday night when they play host to Benitez Bees on Legends Field at Texas Start. First pitch is slated for 8:45PM and you can click here for additional schedule details. Be sure to download the iScore Central app to listen to games live online.