(June 4, 2022 – Carrollton, TX) Following a holiday weekend and some recent weather that has kept the Spirits (50+) squad off of the field, one my believe they would be in for some trouble come game time Saturday morning. The Spirits (50+) had been without a game in over a week and was tasked with taking on the top-seeded Sultanes Rockers early on Saturday morning at McInnish Park. The idea of a little rigamortis setting in wouldn’t have been a stretch, but it appears the rest was actually more beneficial than detrimental as the ghosts showed up awake and ready to play some baseball.
After two weeks off, the Spirits sent newcomer, Mike Sopocy to the hill and Mike appeared to have a full tank of gas in him. Sopocy went the distance, picking up the complete-game victory following a gem that saw just one unearned run cross the dish off of 9 scattered hits, while walking a pair, and striking out one.
Chris Allen reached on an error in the first and went on to steal a bag but the Spirits weren’t able to find a fast start to plate a run. Despite a double and follow up single by the Rockers with two outs in the bottom of the first, Spirits catcher, John Hefner put an end to greedy ideas after Cesar Acosta attempted to swipe second. Hefner relayed a Sopocy pitch to Shawn Lee at shortstop and the Spirits were able to gun down Acosta easily to get out of the inning with the game scoreless.
Things remained quiet until the third inning when the Spirits offense rallied for a pair of runs after Stacy Scott led the inning off with a single. Jack Nash flew out and Rusty Holmes reached on a single that saw Scott get tagged out at third. The Spirits offense struggled with some calls from the umpiring crew after a number of clear and obvious balks by the Rockers pitcher. Perez would start falling backward while standing on the rubber, shuffle his feet, and then make a throw to first. Three different times during the game, Spirits runners took off for second as all players are trained to do when a pitcher doesn’t lift up his back foot. The Spirits were fortunate in each case to find their runner reaching base safely, however, the discussions and arguments from players and coaches appeared to go nowhere as the umpiring crew for some reason felt the move was legal.
Moving past the distractions, the Spirits offense proceeded through the nonsense and worked to plate a pair of runs. Holmes stole second base following another obvious balk tactic, and a single by Allen moved Holmes to third. Sopocy followed with an RBI single to score Holmes and Lee singled home Allen to give the ghosts a 2 run lead before Will Nash flew out to end the frame.
The Spirits held the 2 to 0 lead all the way through the fifth inning as Sopocy continued to deal and the Spirits defense played well, turning 3 different double-plays throughout the contest. In the sixth, the Spirits added another pair of runs after Lee led the inning with a single and moved to third on a single by Will Nash. Brian Hackney went down on swings and Vince Parello flew out, but Lee stole third base and then scored after Earl German reached on an error by the Rockers third baseman. Nash was also able to score on the play and the Spirits led 4 to 0 heading into the bottom of the sixth.
After a runner reached on a Spirits fielding error, the Rockers followed with a pair of hits to get on the board before Hefner gunned down his second runner of the game and Sopocy forced a ground out.
Leading 4 to 1, the Spirits added an insurance run in the seventh after Holmes singled with two out and swiped second base. He later scored on an RBI single by Allen to make it 5 to 1. The Rockers added a pair of two out singles in the seventh, but the defense held and the ghosts had themselves a nice win over the first place team.
“Great job by the guys this morning,” mentioned Lee after the game. “We were short handed today, missing a few solid bats but the guys held it together. Mike (Sopocy) was great today. A nice set of off balance pitches throughout most of the game. More importantly, he had a defense behind him today. Not sure we’ve ever spun 3 double-plays, but we’ll take it.”
Both Lee and Allen led the Spirits offense, each finishing with a pair of hits, run scored, stolen base, and an RBI. Lee also finished with a double, and Holmes added a pair of hits and runs scored to help lead the box.
The Spirits return to action next Saturday morning at 11:45AM when they play host to the Aces. Join the team at McInnish Park, Field #10 or listen online using the iScore Central app. Click here for schedule details.