(March 13, 2023 – Coppell, TX) The smell of a new location was in the air, alongside some very cold and blustery Northerly wind that did not set a tone for Spring. The Spirits (42+) donned their brand new jerseys on Cowboy Field at Coppell ISD, facing off against a mixture of known rivals put together in the form of the “Rattling Dodgers,” a blend of former Rattlers and Dodgers players.
Newcomer, Ryan Marsland helped warm things up for the Spirits offensively, finishing 3-for-3 on the night, including 3 runs batted in. Earl German added a 2-for-2 performance that included a walk, a double, 2 runs scored, and 3 runs batted in. Eric McPherson added a single on the night and also scored twice and knocked in a pair of runs, while Sean House finished with a double, a walk, and a pair of runs scored to round off the Spirits offensive box score.
Spirits starter, Jonathan Duran went the distance, pitching 4 innings while allowing just one earned off of 5 hits, while walking 2, and striking out 5 as the Spirits picked up a 13 to 2 win in a shortened game that finished early due to the league’s 2-hour time limit.
The Rattling Dodgers struck first, scoring a run in the top half of the first inning after Lorenzo McEwen reached on a Spirits fielding error. Dee Mauldin pushed him to third after a double, and a walk to Nick Bird loaded the bases. Scott Bergset lined out and the Spirits were able to double-up McEwen, who was standing off of third base to help save face, but Aaron Lowe followed with an RBI single to score Mauldin, and the Rattling Dodgers had an early 1 to 0 lead before Gary Jackson drew a walk and Joe Venker struck out swinging to end the inning.
Sipila drew a one-out walk in the bottom half of the inning and Marsland singled to give the Spirits offense some life, but Will Nash went down swinging and House grounded out to halt any opportunity to tie the game.
Duran set the Rattling Dodgers in order in the second, including a pair of strikeouts, and the Spirits offense found signs of life in bottom half of the frame. Mike Sopocy struck out looking and Shawn Hunt flew out, but with two outs, the Spirits offense rattled off 5 runs starting with Brian Hackney reaching on an error. Brant Finchum drew a walk and Lester Bedford reached on another error to load the bases. The Spirits took advantage of the “extra out” opportunities and a single by German tied the game at 1 to 1 after German crossed the plate. McPherson followed with a single to score both Finchum and Sopocy, and a walk to Sipila kept the inning alive. Marsland then delivered on a two-out, two-RBI single that scored both German and McPherson, giving the Spirits a 5 to 1 advantage before Nash eventually flew out to end the inning.
Fast forward to the bottom of the third with the same score. House leads off the inning with a double and after Sopocy loses a battle of strikes, Hunt Singles to move House to third. House swiped second to put both runners in scoring position and a walk to Hackney loaded the bags. Finchum struck out swinging but a walk to Bedford pushed House home for the Spirits’ sixth run. The Rattling Dodgers then turned to Patrick Osage to pitch and the Spirits did not give him a warm welcome. German double home both Hunt and Hackney, and after McPherson reached on an error, Bedford was able to score. Two pitches later, German crossed the dish on a wild pitch, and after Sipila singled to push McPherson to third, Marsland singled him home to give the Spirits an 11 to 1 advantage before Nash grounded out to end the rally.
The Rattling Dodgers picked up their second and final run in the fourth on an RBI double by Aaron Lowe, but the Spirits added two more in the bottom half of the inning after House drew a walk to lead things off and moved to second when Sopocy reached on an error. Hunt flew out, but Hackney again walked to load the bags. Finchum also drew a walk to pick up an easy run batted in, and Sopocy eventually made his way home on a wild pitch. German drew a walk to keep the inning alive, but the game was called due to the league’s two-hour time limit.
“A nice start for us,” team skipper, Shawn Lee mentioned afterwards. “A rank night to play baseball with that cold wind, but the guys remained focused and the bats got it done. Not a terrible job on defense either, which is nice. We tend to sometimes to do one thing but not the other. Nice effort by Duran tonight on the hill. Good win for us. They’ve got some solid hitters on that squad, so I’m glad he was able to keep their bats quiet tonight.”
The Spirits (42+) squad returns to action next Monday night when they play host to the Knights. Click here for schedule details.