(August 30, 2021 – Plano, TX) The Spirits (45+) squad cruised to an easy first round playoff victory Wednesday night at Graham Field, rolling past the Dallas Bulls in a shortened-game, 12 to 0 win in NTABL Masters League postseason action.
All-Star pitcher, John Holmquist moved to a perfect 6-0 on the season as he allowed just 3 hits on the night while walking one and striking out one. On the offensive end, Kirk Sipila and Shawn Lee helped lead the Spirits to victory, each finishing with multiple hits. Lee led all hitters with 3 singles on the night, finishing 3-for-4 with 2 RBIs and a stolen base. Sipila also reached base 3 times, adding a pair of hits and a walk alongside 2 runs batted in and another pair of runs scored. John Hefner finished 2-for-3, also with a pair of runs knocked in and scored. Eric Goetz added a hit, walk, 2 runs batted in, 3 runs scored, and stole a pair of bags as well. And it was Holmquist finishing along side of his two-hit comrades, finishing 2-for-3 with 2 runs scored, and an RBI.
“Holmquist was lights out again tonight,” Lee commented after his team’s playoff win. “It was nice to see him at the dish as well. He’s 6′ 5” and he doesn’t necessary look as comfortable in the box versus being on top of the hill, but I’ll tell you what, that fella can hit. It’s a rare occasion that he doesn’t make contact and the only irony is that he wasn’t gifted with speed in those long legs. His pitching has been on point the entire season. I mean, he finished perfect. But when we get him to add offense too, it makes for a great night for the Spirits.
After the Bulls went in order to start the first, the Spirits offense quickly added a pair of runs after Goetz led off with a base-on-balls and stole second. Sipila followed with a free trip to first, and after Goetz swiped third, he later scored on an RBI single by Lee. Sipla then stole third after moving to second on Lee’s hit, and Lee followed suit by taking second. Sean House flew out, but Chris Lewis‘ sacrifice fly ball scored Sipila to make it 2 to 0, Spirits before Brian Hackney grounded out.
Brad Bill singled in the second for the Bulls, but the Spirits defense led by Holmquist on the mound was able to retire the side without any harm done. The Spirits then rallied for 4 additional runs in the bottom half of the inning after David Tipton first reached on a Bulls fielding error. Tipton stole second and then advanced to third on a single by Patrick Bilgere. A follow up single by Hefner scored Tipton and a wild pitch allowed both Bilgere and Hefner to advance to scoring position before Holmquist grounded out. Bilgere was able to score on the Holmquist out and Goetz kept the inning alive with a single that was good to score Hefner. Sipila followed with a single to load the bags, but Lee popped out to the infield to record the second out. House hit an RBI single to score Goetz and it was 6 to 0, Spirits before Lewis flew out to end the inning.
Holmquist retired the Bulls in order and just moments later, the Spirits offense was back at it and they picked up right where they had left off in the second inning. Hackney drew a walk to put a runner on with nobody out, and two pitches later, Tipton flew out. Hackney swiped second base and a ground out by Bilgere moved him to third. Hefner followed with a double to score Hackney and two pitches later, Holmquist was standing safely on first after a single that moved Hefner to third. Goetz was then able to reach on an error that allowed Hefner to score and on the next pitch, both Holmquist and Goetz scored on a double by Sipila. Lee followed with an RBI single to score Sipila to make it 11 to 0, before House flew out to close out the third.
The Spirits went on to score run number 12 in the fifth inning after Holmquist singled and advanced to second on a ground out by Goetz. Sipila was hit with a pitch and Lee singled to load the bases. House hit a sacrifice fly to score Holmquist and the Bulls staved off any additional abuse after getting Lewis to fly out.
House came in and struck out Javier Mendez, but Dee Mauldin provided signs of life with a single to put a Bulls runner aboard. House was then able to make quick work of Michael Phillips and Ezra Peterson to close out a mercy-rule victory for the Spirits.
“Solid effort by several guys at the plate tonight,” Lee continued. “Sipila is always a beast, so we reap off the benifits of his hitting skills nearly every game, but Hefner was also big tonight and so was Goetz. As a team we did a great job of putting the ball in play. Hopefully we’ll carry this offensive momentum as we move forward.”
The victory secures a date with the Caddo Reds next Monday night as the two friendly foes face off for the third time in 2021, with the Spirits holding a 2 to 0 edge in the series. First pitch is slated for 8:45PM at McInnish Park, Field #11 and you can click here for schedule details.