Spirits (40+) Shut Down Drillers to Closeout Regular Season

(October 21, 2020 – Euless, TX) The Spirits (40+) squad is playing good baseball and it showed up Wednesday night on Arlington Field at Texas Star. The Spirits took on the Drillers, a team they usually struggle against in DFW-ABA League play and from the start of the game it was the Spirits who were flexing muscle. The game was never in doubt and the Spirits offense and defense alongside some fantastic pitching from Kirk Sipila and Bobby Kornhauser who showed both poise and aggressiveness from the mound as the Spirits cruised to a 7 to 1 victory to end the regular season before playoffs begin next week.

Sipila pitched the first three innings and held the Drillers to an earned run on 3 hits while walking one and striking out 4. Kornhauser mopped up the last two innings, allowing no runs, no hits but he walked 3 batters that caused no harm and then went on to strikeout a pair of additional Drillers hitters as the game ended early due to the league’s two-hour time limit.

The Spirits offense woke against Drillers starter, Gary Jackson and after the dust settled and the Drillers went through 4 pitchers, it was the Spirits who were left standing with a victory. The Spirits finished with 9 hits including 3 doubles and left 8 runners on base. David Tipton led off the game for the ghosts and drew a walk to put the first runner aboard. Tipton advanced to second after Eric McPherson grounded out and was able to take third on the throw. Sipila drew a walk to put runners on the corners with one out and a single by Travis Hitzeman made it 1 to 0, Spirits. Shawn Lee popped out to the infield and Kornhauser flew out to end the inning.

The Spirits held the Drillers scoreless in the bottom half of the inning after Sipila struck out the first two hitters in the frame and the Spirits went on to add a pair of runs in the top half of the second inning after Brant Finchum and Stacy Scott both drew one-out walks. Chris Lewis dug in and took a 3-1 called strike and stepped away from the box, unhappy of the umpire’s call as the ball nearly hit him in the hands. Lewis dug back in and showed his dismay by taking the next pitch from Jackson to the right-center field gap for a double scoring both Finchum and Scott to make it 3 to 0, Spirits. Lewis was able to reach third on the throw home and four pitches later, John Hefner drew a walk to put runners on the corners. Tipton then hit a short fly ball to center field and Lewis went on to tag and raced home, but the Drillers center fielder was able to throw a strike to the dish to cut Lewis short and the inning was over.

The Drillers then rallied to make it 3 to 1 in the bottom half of the second after Chris Allen drew a walk from Sipila and then went on to steal second. Mike Ellis grounded out and Mike Basileo flew out, but the next Drillers hitter singled to keep the inning alive. Augie Guzman then followed with an RBI single to score Allen before Nelson Alvarez grounded out to end the inning.

The score remained 3 to 1, Spirits until the fifth inning when the bats came back alive. Kornhauser flew out to start the inning but Aaron Wilson singled and Finchum doubled to put both runners in scoring position. Scott drew his second walk of the game to load the bags and Lewis was able to reach on a fielder’s choice that squeezed Scott at second but allowed Wilson to score. Lewis swiped second and Hefner drew a walk to re-load the bases and a follow up single from Tipton scored Finchum to make it 5 to 1, Spirits.

The Spirits turned to Kornhauser in the bottom half of the inning and Kornhauser greeted the first Drillers hitter with a strikeout. Kornhauswer then walked the next Drillers hitter and a moment later, the plate umpire called a balk on Kornhauser and allowed the Drillers runner to move to second. Perhaps caring too much about the base runner, Kornhauser then attempted to pick off the runner at second and the runner was able to move to third after the ball got away from the Spirits second baseman. Chris Allen was then able to reach on a fielder’s choice that proved to be a good move from the Spirits defense as they were able to field and throw home to cut down the Drillers runner trying to score. Ellis was able to keep the inning alive after reaching on an error by Finchum at shortstop, but Basileo grounded out and the inning was over.

Up 5 to 1 in the top half of the fifth inning with time winding down on the league’s two-hour game clock, the Spirits offense wasn’t finished. Sipila led off the inning with a single and Hitzeman followed with a double to the left-center field gap to put both runners in scoring position. Lee then went 3-0 and took a strike before sending the next pitch to the right-center field gap for a hard single that allowed both runners to score and to give the Spirits a 7 to 1 lead before the next three Spirits went in order.

Despite a pair of walks from Kornhauser in the bottom half of the fifth, the Spirits were able to shut down any rally attempt and closed out the game with a win.

“Solid effort from everyone tonight,” mentioned Lee after the game. “Sipila had great control of his pitches and seemed to have a little extra tonight. Kornhauser is looking good too. We’ll need both of them as we head into the postseason. Hitzeman continues to rake at the plate and Lewis had a hell of a night at the dish as well adding 3 runs batted in. Great effort by the guys both offensively and defensively. I feel like we can play with anyone when we have both sides of the diamond going.”

The Spirits will get comfortable with the game’s foe as they’ll face the Drillers next week in a best-of-three series starting with a doubleheader on Tuesday night on Legends Field at Texas Star. Game one begins at 6:30PM and game two at 8:45PM. You can click here for game one details and here for game two details or to download the iScore Central app to listen to the game live online. A third game will occur if the teams split on Tuesday. That game would be played at 6:30PM on Wednesday night on Arlington Field.

Game Box Score

Waxahachie Autoplex Players of the Game

Kirk Sipila (3 IP, 3 H, ER, BB, 4 K; 1-2, R, BB)

Travis Hitzeman (2-3, 2B, R, RBI)

Chris Lewis (1-3, 2B, R, 3 RBI)