The game according to Squints….
Another year with the Essex Base Ball Association has come to a close, and it truly ended with a BANG! There was a constant mist in the air and the sky was grey, but despite the precarious weather, the game was well attended.
This year’s championship was a rematch from last year. The Newburyport Claimdiggers, the reigning champs, were looking to hold on to the “cup” against the undefeated Lowell Base Ball Nine. The Lowell Nine had been on a mission all season as we were still stinging from last year’s defeat. Leading up to the game, there was much chatter amongst the team to rise up to the challenge and be ready to bring our “A” game. Clips of incredible moments in sports and passionate motivation speeches were passed around emphasizing the team to “seize the moment”.
Needless to say, the Nine came out fired up, making a couple of fantastic plays to hold the high-powered Clamdigger offense to a single run in the top of the first. The highlight was a perfectly thrown assist from center to double up the Clamdiggers speedy lead off batter Ryan West preventing a big inning. The Nine came back and scored 3 run in the bottom of the first and after holding the Claimdiggers scoreless in the second, it was looking like the Nine were ready to run away with this one early. But the bottom of the line up stalled and the Claimdiggers defense kicked into high gear holding the Nine scoreless for next 3 innings.
Over the course of those three scoreless innings, the Claimdiggers tallied 8, including a huge top of the 5th where Lowell’s defense slipped allowing 6 runs. Heading into the botom of the 5th the Claimdiggers led 9-3 and were looking to send Lowell to our first defeat of the season. In the playoffs we play a best of 3 series of only 7 innings, so the pressure was mounting. That is when Lowell’s captain, Monkey Sheehy, showed off his inspiring leadership by providing a legendary motivational speech surpassing all that we had seen in the days leading up to the game.
Chris “Monkey” Sheehy
As we came up to bat in the bottom of the 5th, Monkey looked us all in the eye and began his rant. “Boys, it’s time to start hitting. If you don’t step up and get the bats going this inning there will be NO My Little Pony snacks between games! I have two boxes and I want to give them out, but you have to earn them.” With two outs it appeared as though this speech had fallen in deaf ears. Then the fireweorks started as the lineup came alive putting 7 men across the plate before the Clamdiggers were able to get the final out.
Both defenses stood tall the final two innings and the Nine pulled victory from the jaws of defeat winning the first game 10-9. Monkey held true to his word and MLP’s were happily consumed by all.
Game 2 proved to be equally entertaining though it was not quite as high scoring of an affair. Each team worked to manufacture runs while the defenses made fantastic plays. Most notable, Patty “Boom Boom” Wadland made a diving over the head grab on a well struck line drive that not only ended the inning but also stopped what would have been a certain double.
The Claimdiggers came up in the bottom of the 7th needing 4 runs to tie the game and extend their season. Lowell, knowing how potent this offense is, took the field with focus. The hope of a championship and an undefeated season were on the line. With two outs, a man on second, and one run already crossing the plate, the legend, Pat Cook, comes to the plate. Knowing his tendency to pull the ball, the Lowell outfield shifts toward left field. Pat notices this and tries to send an outside pitch to right. He gets under it popping up to shallow right. This is going to be very difficult for the defense to cover. It”s a long run for all three positions who have a shot at it. As Goose, Sandman, and I converge the ball hits the soggy ground and takes a small bounce. One of the greatest things about 1864 rules base ball is that catching the ball after one bound still counts as an out. With the ball inches from hitting the ground again, Sandman lunges. I have the best seat in the house as this play unfolds. As I also ran toward the ball, my mind curiously questioned if the combination of Sandman’s inertia and position would be too much to allow him to make the catch. My mind began preparing for the ball to kick toward foul territory, when Sandman’s hand cradled the ball perfectly. As he slid to a stop and held the ball in the air the entire team ran to right field celebrating our long awaited victory.
We had avenged last year’s loss, and brought the “cup” to what we consider it’s rightful place within the Essex Bas Ball Association.
Thanks to Mark Scappichio for putting up with us (i.e. Wiz) and umping a great game. Thanks to the Cranks who battled the gloomy day. Thanks to the Clamdiggers for an excellent match. Thanks to our rookies, Lynchy, Jeremiah , Sandman, and Sweet Pete for helping replinish our roster. Finally, thanks to the MLP’s (My Little Pony fruit snacks) for powering champions since 2014.
Lowell Nine 2014