(October 19, 2022 – Euless, TX) It’s normally a closer game, and normally the Spirits on the tail end of the victory side. But tonight, with Craig Molldrem on the hill and a skeleton crew of Spirits players, the ghosts were able to get the job done by finding hits and letting the big guy do his work.
The Spirits scattered 15 hits off of Redbirds pitching to cruise to a 10 to 4 victory Wednesday night, and to remain in sole possession of first place as the league makes its final turn before the single elimination playoff.
Molldrem finished with a pair of hits including a triple, 2 runs scored, 2 RBIs, and walked once while going the distance on the hill, tossing for 6 innings of work while allowing 2 earned off of 4 hits, striking out 11, and walking one. Duane Aponte filled in and finished with a pair of hits including a double, 2 runs scored, 2 RBIs, and a walk. Shawn Hunt added a pair of hits, also including a double, 3 runs scored, and a run batted in. Every Spirits hitter hit safely with Brian Hackney also coming up big, adding 2 hits and 4 runs batted in. Both Chris Lewis and Shawn Lee played injured, each adding a pair of hits as well.
“To be honest, I had know idea if we’d even play,” Lee mentioned later. “We had 9 players out due to injury or tournament play elsewhere. Lewis played injured and I stupidly got on the field to assist but we somehow seemed to get through it. When you have a pitcher like Craig, the rest should be details, but we’re also very prone to a high number of errors on the field of play. We somehow were still able to win with 6 errors on the night, however that’s not going to good enough to win a championship.”
The Spirits welcomed both Aponte and Hackney from their reserves list, and were also able to get by with an opponent playing as a sub in the form of Chris Duty.
The Redbirds took an early lead in the first after Jerry Anderson and Jerry Gamez each singled with two outs. John Mahalik reached on an error by Hackney in right field that allowed both Anderson and Gamez to score. Hackney slipped on the turf in what appeared to be a routine fly ball, and Mahalik was able to reach second on the play. Molldrem was able to set down Jason New on swings to get out of the frame.
The Spirits then answered to tie the game, 2 to 2 after Eric Goetz singled. Aponte went down on swings and in absolute abysmal call by the plate umpire, 3 to 5 seconds later as Aponte began to his walk to first, Goetz was picked off thinking that Aponte had walked.
“The call was ridiculous,” Lee continued. “It’s bad enough he missed 5 to 8 pitches per game, but to not see it this poorly? Terrible. It was ball 4. Aponte began to jog to first and Goetz started on his way to second and then the guy yells strike three. I almost thought he was joking. Some guys just shouldn’t be behind the dish when Craig is pitching. They can’t see his pitches. They’re too fast for them.”
Hunt was hit by a pitch to keep the inning alive and the mistake hurt as Molldrem belted a triple to the left center field wall to score him. Molldrem then scored on a RBI single by Hackney to tie the game. Lewis kept the inning alive with another single, but Redbirds starter, Steve Mattock was able to get Jonathan Duran on swings to get out of the inning.
After Mark Tierney grounded out in the second, Molldrem struck out Chris Cec and Brent Smerczynski to set down the Redbirds in order. The Spirits then answered with 4 runs to take a 6 to 2 lead after Lee singled with one out. Lee went on to swipe second base, but Goetz lost the battle on swings. Lee was able to move to third on a single by Aponte and then scored on a double by Hunt. Aponte later scored on an error by the Redbirds defense, and a single by Hackney scored both Hunt and Molldrem to give the ghosts some insurance before Lewis lined out to end the inning.
The Spirits made it 8 to 2 in the bottom of the third after Duran and Duty both singled. Lee popped out to the infield and Goetz went down swinging, but Aponte came through with a double to score both runners before Hunt grounded out to end the inning.
The Redbirds cut the lead to, 8 to 4 in the fourth after Smerczynski reached on an error by Duran in left field. The play easily could have gone either direction as Duran had to chase a ball blowing back in from the wind. Smerczynski reached second on the play and later moved to third when Lester Bedford grounded out. Juan Mollinedo then reached on an error by Lee at first that allowed Smerczynski to score before Molldrem struck out Joe Lowry. Kevin Fought then singled to score Mollinedo before Molldrem struck out Anderson to end the inning.
The Spirits went on to tack another pair of runs on the board after Aponte drew a leadoff walk and Hunt singled. Molldrem loaded them after drawing a walk and Hackney picked up his fourth RBI on the night by wearing a pitch. Lewis then singled to score Hunt before the game was called due to the league’s two hour time limit.
“Great win tonight,” Lee finished. “Any time you can beat the DFW all-stars (Redbirds), it’s a blessing. We’re happy to be on this side of the contest for a change when it comes to them. I’m sure we’ll see them again in the tournament.”
The Spirits play their final regular season fall game next Wednesday night when they host TBD, a group of Rattlers and Drillers players that formed a team for Fall ball. Game time is 6:30PM and first pitch is on Legends Field at Texas Star. Click here for schedule details.