(August 7, 2017 – Carrollton, TX) The 2017 version of Quentin Tarantino’s “Hateful Eight,” as directed by Spirits (45+) manager, Kirk Sipila was released and proved to be a thriller as Sipila and company battled the DFW Hurricanes this past Monday night. Although the same spirited language used in the motion picture wasn’t displayed on the field, it could have certainly been played out in the minds of Hurricanes hitters, who found a bit of difficulty cracking Captain Kirk’s pitching code as the crew in blue found a way to hang on with a 7 to 6 victory at McInnish Park #11 in Carrollton.
Sipila and his club were short on players and the eight players that were able to take the field did just enough to leave with a victory behind some solid plays defensively, and behind Sipila’s pitching. Sipila was able to hold Hurricanes hitters from traumatizing the outfield that was being covered by Shawn Lee and Guy Koenig. Lee is typically the starting left fielder for the Spirits and Koenig handles third base, but took on right field duty with the absence of David Tipton (center field) and Dennis Gonzalez (right field). Sipila allowed 6 earned runs on 10 hits, while walking only one Hurricanes hitter, and striking out 4. The six Hurricanes runners left on base were key to the Spirits success and the recipe included timely strikeouts from Sipila and key plays defensively.
The Spirits relied on the Open (18+) team manager/player and (35+) player, John Showalter as an approved sub for the game and the move proved to be a good one as Showalter provided some necessary shutdown plays from third base alongside other timely plays from the Spirits defense, including Lee holding a few runners to singles on hits to wide open holes in the outfield. “The guys played really well tonight defensively, and we were able to put up enough offense to get a win tonight,” Lee commented following the game. “I’m not going to lie, I was dead tired between running bases and then chasing down hits either down the line or up the middle. We dodged a bullet tonight, but Sip was spot-on with his pitching and got us some outs when we really needed them. Show (Showalter) was great at third and honestly, the wind blowing in as hard as it was seemed helpful to us in the outfield.”
Sipila and company set the Hurricanes down, 1-2-3 in the top half of the first and also went out quickly in the bottom half of the inning, despite a single by Koenig. Greg Anderson led off the top of the second with a single for the Hurricanes, but a pair of strikeouts from Sipila shut down the inning quickly. The offense opened up in the bottom half of the second when Chris Lewis singled but was then forced out after Brian Hackney made it to first safely on a fielder’s choice. With one on and one out, Jack Nash and Showalter both drew walks and the bases were loaded for Lee. Lee grounded to third and made it to first safely after the Hurricanes third baseman attempted a double-play up the middle. Showalter was squeezed at second, but Hackney scored on Lee’s RBI. Brant Finchum was hit by a pitch to load the bases with two down and Koenig followed up his hitting streak with another single to score both Nash and Lee. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch and Sipila drew a free pass to once again load the bases with two down. Lewis returned to the plate as the ninth hitter in the inning and was able to reach on yet another fielder’s choice that failed to result in a recorded out, but scored both Finchum and Koenig.
The Hurricanes struck back in the top half of the third with a run off of a pair of singles and again in the fourth after James Dean singled and later scored on a triple by Mason Gann. With a 5 to 2 lead moving into the bottom of the fourth, the Spirits added another run after Sipila tripled to the wall and then scored on a single by Lewis. The score narrowed to 6 to 3 after Michael Madsen singled to start the Hurricanes fifth. He later scored on a double by Chris Crombar, but the Spirits answered. In the bottom of five, Lee singled but was squeezed when Finchum reached on a fielder’s choice. Koenig reached on an error and both runners advanced on a double-steal. The throw to third in an attempt to pick off Finchum made its way to left field and Finchum was able to score to give the ghosts a 7 to 3 lead.
The Hurricanes found some openings in the top half of the sixth however, and the game got interesting, fast. Mark Adams drew the only walk of the evening off of Sipila and quickly stole second to put a runner in scoring position with nobody out. Adams later scored on a single by Thomas Young and Young quickly advanced to third on a single by Dean. With runners at the corners and nobody out, Gregory Anderson reached on an error, which scored Young. Sipila was able to get Gann to fly out, but Terry Helm followed with a single to score Dean and the score was cut to 7 to 6. Sipila was able to get Madsen to pop out to third and saved the day when Brad Petty hit a medium line drive immediately back to Sipila, in which he snared for out number three to kill the Hurricanes rally.
As the game moved into the bottom half of the sixth, a handful of solid at bats including a walk drawn by Nash, a five-pitch single by Lee, and a ten-pitch walk by Finchum sealed the win for the Spirits as game time expired, reaching the two hour game time limit. With the win, the Spirits move to 12-3 in NTABL Masters League play and a half game behind the number-one seeded Dallas Orioles. The team returns to action next Monday night for the regular season finale as they visit the Caddo Reds at Reverchon Park in Uptown, Dallas. First pitch is slated for 6:30PM.