(June 28, 2023 – Euless, TX) With a lot of ups and downs throughout the season and only a couple of games remaining before the postseason, the Spirits (40+) has had a bit of an identity problem in DFW-ABA 40 League action during 2023. Needing a pair of wins to finish in the top four to make the playoff, the team found instant offense alongside some inconsistency on the side of the Rattlers as the ghosts cruised to a 13 to 1 win against the friendly foe.
Ryan Marsland earned a shortened complete-game victory on the mound, completing 5 innings while allowing no earned runs on 4 hits, walking one, and striking out 3 as he and the Spirits defense were able to walk away with a mercy-rule win.
On the offensive side, the Spirits scattered just 6 hits but drew 7 walks off of Rattlers pitching to keep the bases busy, starting with a 5-run first inning against starter Luis Abriz. Notables included Cliff Brade, who finished 1-for-1 with a pair of walks, 3 runs scored, one run batted in, and 2 stolen bags. Eric McPherson finished 1-for-2 with a walk, hit-by-pitch, 2 runs batted in, 3 RBIs and also stole a pair of bags. Shawn Lee was 1-for-3 with a pair of runs scored and runs knocked in, and Will Nash added a 2-for-3 performance, adding a ruin scored and 2 runs batted in.
After Brade singled to lead off the first inning, he promptly stole second base and then watched McPherson draw a walk. Marsland wore a pitch from Ambriz, and Lee reached on a fielder’s choice that scored Brade. Nash then singled to score McPherson and a follow up walk to Eric Goetz scored another Spirits run. Mike Sopocy then reached on a fielder’s choice that put out Goetz and second base and allowed Lee to score and a few pitches later, Chris Lewis scored Nash on a sacrifice fly to make it 5 to 0 before Earl German flew out.
The Spirits tacked on another pair of runs in the third inning after Brade led off with a walk and again stole second base. He moved to third on a passed ball and then scored on an RBI single by McPherson, and after McPherson stole second, he later moved to third after Marsland grounded out. Lee flew out but Nash kept the scoring alive with an RBI single to score McPherson before Ambriz was able to retire Goetz on swings.
Aaron Lowe reached on a Spirits fielding error in the bottom of the fourth and the error proved costly as he eventually scored when the Spirits twisted a double-play after Marlon Woods and Daren Wilkinson both singled to load the bases. Marsland was able to get Edgar Robles to ground out to end the inning and to sustain a 7 to 1, Spirits lead.
The Spirits then broke open for another 6 runs in the fifth inning after Shawn Hunt drew a leadoff walk and moved to second when David Tipton singled. Stacy Scott and Brade both drew walks to give Brade the easy RBI, and Tipton later scored after McPherson reached on a fielder’s choice that squeezed Scott at third. Marsland walked to reload the bags and a single by Lee scored both Brade and McPherson. Nash reached on an error that was good to score Marsland, and Lee scored after Goetz reached on a fielder’s choice to give the game its finals score after Marsland set the Rattlers in order to secure the mercy-rule victory.
“Great job by the guys tonight,” Lee commented. “Strike zone was really tough for both sides but I feel like we were patient and took advantage by drawing walks and making key hits when runners were aboard or in scoring position. That’s a solid team and I’m sure we’ll see them if we make the postseason, but to do it tonight with most of their talent there and with us missing two of our best hitters makes this a great win.
The Spirits return to action next Wednesday night when they face the Mustangs for what will be a playoff atmosphere. The winner will advance to the top-4 round of the league playoffs for a chance at walnut and gold. Fans can click here for schedule details.