Match Report: Holstons Gobble the Phoenix’s Huckleberry, 10-4

A match game of base ball was recently played on the grounds of Colonel Ramsey’s exquisite plantation between the Holston Club of this city and the Phoenix Club, a coterie of gentleman ballists whose exploits in their past three matches at both the dish and in the garden has awarded them a reputation as “bully boys.”

The Holstons looked to right their wagon and halt the Phoenix winning streak.  However, the home club had thrown away a few victories in the first half of the season as a consequence of their struggles at the dish and incessant number of muffs in the garden.  Moreover, winning would prove a tall order for the Holstons who were down two ballists.  Samson, the club’s muckle at the dish and artist in left field, is currently at sea in the Atlantic bound for the fierce and desolate desert and rugged mountainous regions of Morocco where he intends to play in the sand and dirt for the next month.  Hawkeye, whose onions are hurled at a good clip, perhaps the fastest in the South, arrived with his left shoulder tightly bandaged as a consequence of his visit to Sawbones following a tumble he took in the Holstons’ last match against the Machinists.

As the noon hour neared and rooters began to arrive by both wagon and the Three Rivers Rambler Special Express, things seemed to go from bad to worse for the Holstons.  Sour Mash and Doc were loosening their limbs when the latter attempted to bare nose, rather than bare hand, the onion.  The results were disastrous for the Holston hurler.  Doc retired to his tent to halt the bleeding, but not before having to wave off Sawbones who eagerly rushed over with his tools ready to amputate.  Albeit lightheaded and a little weary, Doc emerged ready  to answer arbiter Grapeshot’s opening ceremonial call.

The match commenced a few minutes past noon with the Holstons winning the bat toss.  The Phoenix opened the first frame with their fierce foursome of Chicago, Dickins, BBQ, and Lefty.  Chicago swung at Doc’s patented dew drop resulting in a tip out to Bugle Boy in the catcher’s position who scooped up the prize for the first hand dead.  Dickins then packaged a blooper to left which was promptly received by Lefty for the second hand dead.  Next, BBQ cooked up a sockdolager that nearly ripped the lemon peel off the onion as it soared over Stove Pipe’s head at second and skedaddled past the Holstons’ last line of defense deep into Colonel Ramsey’s bellows, thus enabling the Phoenix muckle to make two bases.  Lefty then answered Grapeshot’s “striker to the line” in the hope that a well-placed ball would grant BBQ safe passage home.  Lefty passed on Doc’s first two balls; however, he chose to bite on the third, a boodler of a hurl that began on one side of the dish but veered to the other as if guided by a strong southerly gale.  Consequently, Lefty struck a bounder appropriately left of first that prompted Gasser to abandon his post to field the onion.  Doc made haste towards first beating Lefty to the sack as Gasser flipped the ball to Doc to close the Phoenix’s first frame.

Augie set the tone for the Holstons’ explosive first frame as he stepped to the dish.  Nails stood opposite at the pitcher’s point and hurled a ball that drifted away from the striker and the dish; however, Augie reached for it and sent a cloud hunter deep to right that fell back to earth but a few feet left of the foul line.  By the time the Phoenix scout reached Augie’s mighty pluck, the Holston center scout was already rounding second to make his base and claim yet a third sack.  Molasses, the home club’s captain then sent a stinger past the Phoenix’s short stop who chose not to field the ball for fear of incurring a first degree burn.  Molasses easily made his base while Augie strolled home to tally the first ace of the match.  Lefty then hit a ball that dropped in front of his feet and took a wicked spin backwards to the catcher whose throw to first prompted Grapeshot to tie a bandana to the backstop to signal the first hand dead.  Next, Cannonball’s blooper scaled over the Phoenix’s infield defenses before planting itself in the Colonel’s garden to secure first sack.  Meanwhile, Molasses stirred his stumps from second to tally the Holstons’ second ace.  Little Skeeter then made first on a muffed ball that piddled over to his adversary’s bench , thus advancing Cannonball to second.  Gasser caught Nails’ ball in the same manner as Augie had to lead off; however, this time the Phoenix defense moved quicker and the throw arrived at second at the same time as Gasser, prompting Grapeshot to ask a rooter for a decision that went in the favor of the Phoenix.  Lost in the excitement over whether Gasser had made his base or whether the Phoenix basetender had tagged him out was the fact that Cannonball had rang the bell to announce the Holstons’ third ace of the inning.  With two hands dead, Stove Pipe stepped to the dish and sent a hot ball that parted Snookie Roy’s hair at second providing Little Skeeter a path home.  As the Phoenix attempted to get the onion in to the pitcher’s point, an errant throw from second sailed over Nails’ head and raced past the backstop as Crash was clearing the Holstons’ ordinance from the dish.  Rooters shouted to Stove Pipe to take advantage of the muff and take second.  With Pipe at second, Sour Mash launched a moon onion that was beautifully missed as the Phoenix scout in center attempted to gobbled Sour Mash’s huckleberry.  Mash’s two-sacker enabled Stove Pipe to dial down his blazing stumps and skip across the dish for the Holstons’ fifth ace.  The home club’s explosive start abruptly fizzled out as Bugle Boy was thrown out trying to make his base.

The Holstons’ five aces would prove sufficient to foil the Phoenix’s hopes of claiming in their fourth victory in as many matches.  Nevertheless, the Holstons’ ordinance department proved capable of further exploiting the Phoenix defensive lines as Papaw, Little Skeeter, Gasser, Augie, and Molasses rounded the sacks to give the home club a total of ten aces after five innings.

Picking up where they left off in the first, the Holston’s stout defense and the hurling duo of Doc and Papaw stifled their adversary’s timber.  The Phoenix failed to send no more than five ballists to the dish in each of the next six frames.  Moreover, the Holstons retired the side in order in half of these frames.  Such a performance has been few and far between since last season when the Holstons won a league tying eight matches in the season thanks to its scouts’ defensive prowess.

The only chink in the Holstons’ armor appeared in the eighth frame.  Having retired the first two batters in an expeditious manner, the home club seemed more eager to roast in the sun to achieve a golden tan rather than answer Butter Bean’s call for “one more boys gets us shade.”  The Phoenix timber, which had proved largely immune to Doc and Papaw’s battery of balls, suddenly caught fire.  The top of the lineup sent a deadly volley of onions that not only were beautifully missed in the field but also resulted in a couple of costly muffs bringing the balls in, which enabled the Phoenix to escape the match sans a shutout.  Chicago, Dickens, BBQ, and Lefty each tallied an ace for the visiting club before Augie caught Horsefly’s shooter to center on the bound and managed to stop the hemorrhaging of aces.

At the close of the Phoenix’s ninth frame, Grapeshot called the match in the Holstons’ favor, 10 to 4.  The Knoxville ballists celebrated the club’s fifteen victory with their loyal rooters, but not before the game ball was awarded to Augie whose artistry in the garden was only surpassed by his mastery of the Phoenix at the dish.  The Holston muckle was denied hitting for the cycle of sacks in the top of the eighth frame when his line ball to left, which snuck past Chicago, somehow managed to cut enough blades of grass in Colonel Ramsey’s garden to reach the thickets, thus denying Augie his second four-sacker in the past month.  Furthermore, laurels were also awarded to Stove Pipe for his perfect striking.  It is no coincidence that Stove Pipe has plucked more balls since he has traded his flashy Corn Dog for Doc’s vigorous timber.

Having maintained a perfect record against the Phoenix, the Holstons look to do the same against the Nashville Maroons at General Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage on August 24.

Game stats