(April 5, 2023 – Euless, TX) Big innings have been great to the Spirits organization in 2023 for the most part. They’ve been on the unfortunate side a couple of times this season as a club, but for the most part, the big innings have been in the favor of the Spirits. This past Wednesday was one of those good exceptions for the Spirits (40+) squad as they won the game of cards with a pair of 9’s over a pair of 2’s, roasting the dogs by a score of 18 to 4 in DFW-ABA 40 League action.
Amongst the group of stat-padding Spirits, a few stood out including Eric Goetz, Will Nash, and Cliff Brade. Each of them finished with a pair of hits on the night, and each knocked in 3 runs. Goetz finished with two singles, a run scored, a walk and 3 runs batted in while Nash added two singles, 2 runs scored, a walk, 3 runs batted in, and 2 stolen bases. Eric McPherson finished 1-for-3 with 3 runs scored, 2 walks, and 3 stolen bags. Mike Sopocy tripled, added a run scored, walk, and 3 runs batted in, and Brade finished with a double, 2 runs scored, and 3 runs batted in. Shawn Hunt also had a solid night, always doing a great job defensively and behind the plate as the team’s catcher, but also adding a single, walk, 2 runs scored, and an RBI.
Duane Aponte went the distance for the shortened game due to the league’s mercy rule. Aponte tossed 5 innings, allowing 4 earned off 7 hits, while walking one and striking out 2. Aponte also finished with a single, run scored, and a run batted in to aid his own cause.
After setting the Chihuahuas in order in the top half of the first, the Spirits broke out offensively, putting out a 9-spot to essentially put the game out of reach right after it started. McPherson reached on an error to lead things off and Goetz flew out. McPherson swiped second and Nash walked. Both runners stole the bag in front of them to put themselves into scoring position and a walk to Hunt loaded them. Sopocy’s triple to the right centerfield wall scored each runner, and the Spirits had an early 3 to 0 lead. Aponte grounded out but Sopocy scored on the play to make it 4 to 0. Stacy Scott singled and David Tipton drew a walk. Following a wild pitch, both runners advanced and Scott was able to score on an errant throw by the Chihuahuas catcher. Earl German drew a walk and a double by Brade moved him to third after Tipton scored. McPherson drew a walk in his second at-bat of the inning and the Chihuahuas had seen enough of starting pitcher, Chris Mays. The team turned to Michael Welsh for help and he too struggled unfortunately, starting with a walk to Goetz to score German. A follow up RBI single by Nash scored both Brade and McPherson, and the Spirits were up 9 to 0 before Hunt grounded out to end the bleeding.
The Chihuahuas added a pair of runs in the second after Welsh singled and scored on a long single by Rene Villalobos. Andres Andrade flew out and Villalobos eventually stole second base. Mercedes Mendoza flew out for the second out of the inning but Juan Norat followed with a single to right to score Villalobos. Aponte was able to get Tim Nedrow to fly out to end the frame. Sopocy led off the Spirits second with a base-on-balls, but Welsh was able to set Aponte, Scott, and Tipton in order to close out the second inning.
The Chihuahuas then showed signs of hope, adding another pair of runs in the third after Brandon Mitchell reached on a one-out double. Jacob Rankin followed with a single and moved Mitchell to third. Rankin stole second and a single by Welsh scored Mitchell. Villalobos then plated Rankin with a sacrifice fly, and Aponte was able to set down Andrade looking to get out of the inning.
The Spirits put up another egg to close the third but despite a pair of base runners in the fourth, Aponte and his defense returned the favor, keeping the Chihuahuas from scoring in the top half of the inning.
The Spirits then opened for another 9-run inning and essentially broke the spirit of the dogs and if anything, did a great job hogging most of the 2-hour time limit remaining in the game. McPherson singled to start things off and moved to third when Goetz followed with a single. Welsh attempted to pick Goetz at first and when he did it a second time, McPherson broke for the plate and stole home.Villalobos attempted to relay the pickoff attempt home and the errant throw allowed Goetz to move to second. He later scored on a single by Nash, and Nash was able to advance to third an error in the outfield. Hunt then singled home Nash and Sopocy recorded the first out after flying out to right. Aponte singled to move Hunt to third, and another single by Scott scored him. Tipton reached on an error to load the bases and another error during German’s at-bat allowed him to reach safely and for Aponte to score. Brade followed with an RBI single to score both Scott and Tipton, and both runners moved over after Chris Lewis grounded out. Another walk to McPherson loaded the bases and Goetz came through with an RBI single to make it 18 to 4 before Nash grounded out to once again stop the bleeding.
Mitchell drew a walk and Rankin reached on a fielder’s choice to put two on with nobody out in the fifth, but Aponte’s defense was able to spin a double-play before getting Villalobos to ground out to end the game due to the league’s mercy rule.
“Another great outing by the offense,” Shawn Lee noted after the game. “We’ve had some great innings on offense, that’s for sure. Unfortunately we’ve had a few against us as well. Defense wasn’t too bad either. Only a pair of errors. Chihuahuas obviously weren’t playing their best baseball tonight. They’re competitive and I’m sure this will look much differently the next time we play. But for now, we’ll enjoy it and we’ll enjoy the hot bats while we have them.”
The Spirits return to action next Wednesday night when they visit the Mustangs at McInnish Park in Carrollton. Fans can click here for schedule details.