(July 2, 2018 – Plano, TX) The Caddo Reds had the tying run 90 feet away when Earl German struck out Stacey Scott to seal a victory for the Spirits (45+) squad Monday night at Graham Field. The Spirits won the game, 9 to 8 and were fortunate to hang on and get the win. Kirk Sipila and Brian Hackney added a pair of hits each to lead the Spirits, and Patrick Bilgere added a pair of RBIs and a run scored, while Guy Koenig added an RBI and a pair of runs scored to round off the box score.
It was the Reds who drew first blood, starting in the top half of the first inning when T.K. Hayes led off with a single. Rich Beller followed with a double off of Spirits starter, John Holmquist and the Reds had a 1 to 0 lead following the RBI. Scott grounded out to push Beller to third and Reds starting pitcher, Dan Sosa followed with another ground out that was good enough to score Beller and give the Reds a 2 to 0 lead.
The Spirits rallied to tie in the bottom half of the inning after lead off man, David Tipton singled and Sipila drew a base-on-balls. Koenig flew out and Tipton stole third and Sipila followed to steal second during an at-bat from Bilgere. Bilgere followed by reaching on a Reds error that was good enough to score Tipton and pushed Sipila to third. German grounded in what would appear to be a certain double-play, but the Reds offense mishandled the throw to first and Sipila was able to score on the play. Sosa refocused and was able to get Shawn Lee to fly out to kill the rally.
The Spirits had opportunity in the second after Hackney led off with a single, but Lee replaced Hackney as a courtesy runner and was caught leaning by Sosa. Jack Nash followed up with a single that would have put runners on first and second with nobody out, but the Reds remained solid defensively and Sosa was able to get Chris Lewis to line out and Brant Finchum to ground out to ruin any opportunity. That opportunity resurfaced in the third, however after Sipila reached on a one out single. Koenig doubled to score Sipila and Bilgere traded places with another double to score Koenig. German flew out and Lee followed with a double to the left field wall to score Bilgere and the Spirits led, 5 to 2. Hackney followed with a single the pushed Lee to third, but Sosa was able to get Nash on swings to end the inning.
The Reds cut into the lead in the top half of the fourth after Rob Medel reached on a one out single. Medel stole second and Holmquist was able to get Bret Baker to line out to give the Spirits two outs in the inning, but Chris Duty singled to score Medel and Joel Chirino also singled after Duty stole second and the Reds had runners at the corners. Duty was able to score on a miscue by Bilgere, the Spirits catcher, who attempted to get Chirino taking off for second. Duty recognized the throw to second and broke for home and was able to score without issue. Holmquist was able to strikeout Gary Menes to end the inning, but the Reds cut the Spirits lead down to, 5 to 4.
The Spirits appeared to break the game open in the bottom half of the inning after Lewis doubled to start. Lewis attempted to stretch the blast to the right field wall into a triple, but the Reds relayed the throw from the outfield to third and were able to easily tag Lewis out at third. With one down in the inning, Finchum followed up with a double of his own and the Spirits had a runner in scoring position. Tipton drew a walk and Finchum went on to steal third and later would advance home on a wild pitch from Sosa. Tipton made his way to third and later scored on an RBI single from Sipila. Koenig followed by reaching on an error and upon taking off for second, he briefly and purposely got caught in a run down that allowed Sipila to take home. Koenig eventually made his way safely to second on a throwing error by the Reds during the pickle. With nobody covering third, Koenig was able to race and take the extra bag to compound the Reds blunder and he later scored on another Sosa wild pitch before German flew out to end the inning. After five complete, the Spirits were in charge with a 9 to 4 lead.
Roderick Hicks started off the Reds sixth by drawing a walk from Holmquist and Holmquist had had enough. German came in to finish the inning and Hayes and Beller welcomed German to the game with back-to-back singles. With the bases loaded for the Reds, Scott grounded out but it was good enough to score Hicks from third. Sosa followed with an RBI single to score Hayes and the lead was cut to, 9 to 6. Sosa took second and Medel followed with another RBI single to score Beller and the score was now, 9 to 7 before German was able to strike out Baker and get Duty to ground out.
The Spirits went in order in the bottom half of the inning and the Reds returned to the batter’s box with the game’s final inning noted due to the league’s two hour time limit. Chirino and Menese provided the hope for the Reds after leading off the inning with back-to-back singles and Chirino later reached third on a wild pitch by German. German recovered by striking out Hicks and Menese increased the level of drama by stealing second. With Hayes at the plate with a 1-0 count, Chirino was able to cut the lead to 9 to 8 after ball two hit the turf. Hayes eventually grounded out, but was able to push Menese to third with two down in the Reds half of the inning plot thickened after Beller drew a two out walk. Scott made his way to the dish and took strike one as the Spirits allowed Beller to have second base on a defensive indifference. German turned back to the wind-up and focused on Scott and lost the count with two straight balls. With a 2-1 count, Scott followed by fouling off the next two pitches before being called out on strikes when German caught the corner and sealed the victory for the Spirits.
Holmquist earned the win and German the save as the victory boasted the Spirits record to 12-1 with a 3-game lead over the Reds (9-4) with five games remaining in the summer regular season NTABL Masters League schedule. The team will return to action next Monday night as they visit the North Dallas Bulls at Graham Field with a 6:30PM scheduled first pitch. Click here for schedule details, to obtain driving directions to the game, or to download the iScore Central app to watch and listen to the game live, online!