(August 19, 2023 – Carrollton, TX) Well, they earned the regular season title but after winning 16 straight, the Spirits (50+) offense unfortunately picked the wrong day not to show up. It was championship Saturday at McInnish Park and the Spirits were squared against a regular and formidable foe in the form of the Redbirds. The teams faced off in a best-of-three series that lasted two games as the Redbirds swept the scoreless Spirits in back-to-back games by scores of 4 to 0, and 11 to 0 to earn the DFW-ABA 50 League championship.
The Redbirds kicked off game one with a 3-run first inning followed by another run in the second inning and that was all they needed to take the first game. Redbirds starting pitcher, Troy Key held the Spirits offense to just 5 hits on the day, picking up the complete-game shutout victory while walking just one and striking out 3.
Kirk Sipila, Eric McPherson, and Shawn Lee each hit safely one time, with McPherson and Lee each adding a double. Brian Hackney and Todd Murrah also each recorded a single but the Spirits found nothing in the tank offensively as Spirits starter, Mike Sopocy also went the distance, allowing 3 earned off of 9 hits while walking a pair and striking out 3.
“Super disappointed,” Lee noted afterwards. “Mike was solid but as a team we had no answer for Troy. No big hits, no momentum. It was like we already knew we were going to lose.”
John Mahalik and Mark Tierney each picked up a pair of hits for the Redbirds, while Jerry Gamez added a double and 3 runs batted in to lead their team to victory in game one. In the second game, it was a bit of the same, but worse.
Redbirds pitcher Scott Clawson earned the victory, tossing just 4 innings and allowing 2 hits, while walking and striking out one in the shortened mercy-ruled victory. The Rebirds on the other hand, reaped off of Spirits pitching, picking up 9 of 11 earned runs off of the Spirits arms off of just 7 hits, using 8 free trips to first to cruise to an easy 11 to 0 win.
Rich Beller finished 2-for-2 with a pair of runs batted in for the Redbirds, and Lester Bedford added a triple with 3 RBIs to lead the Redbirds to yet another championship. Vince Parello and McPherson were the only two Spirits hitters to reach safely.
“It’s a gut punch,” Lee continued. “We beat them earlier in the season, and also beat other top teams and past league winners chalking up 16 straight only to show up and play like this. I’m sure if we had it to do over, the outcome would be much different, but it is what it is. They were the much better team today and playing like we did isn’t going to earn anything. It’s a disappointing end to what was otherwise a really great and fun season. Proud of my guys. We just didn’t get it done.”
The Spirits would like to thank their fans, friends, family, and team supporters for their efforts and assistance in a successful 2023 summer season. Rejoin the Spirits at www.spiritsbaseball.com or through social media to follow the team through the upcoming Fall season.