The Eclipse packed their belongings and headed east to showcase their talented club against some of the finer clubs in America’s northeast. This by invitation only tournament allows ballists from Northville to meet, watch and play other talented gentlemen in this game of base ball. The first match for the Eclipse saw the team meet up with Talbot Fairplays. Twice champions of this tournament, this excellent club from Maryland quickly demonstrated why they would be considered a strong favorite to play for another championship over the weekend. Before the Eclipse had time to truly take in the majestic sights of the Mumford terrain over the outfield fences on Silver Park, the Fairplays had tallied three aces in their first striking appearance. The Eclipse were fortunate to strike back with three aces of their own in the bottom of the inning, but their normally sure fielding fled them in the next two innings while allowing an ace to tally in the second inning and two more to tally in the third inning. Talbot is an excellent hitting club and they did nothing to dispel that notion this Saturday morning when they added seven more runs in the fifth inning. Maybe the weary legs of the Northville club began to foot themselves as they helped bring life to their bats in the sixth inning when they were able to plate five runs. TinMan started the scoring with a two out single to deep left center that allowed Cuppa to race around the bases freely. Two singles later, Mac drove in two more runs with a sharp liner up the middle while Trouble and Rev contributed run scoring singles before the inning ended. However, on this bright sunny day, the day belonged solely to the Fairplays and the Eclipse were privileged to share the field with fine gentleman and ballists.
The second match of the day saw the Eclipse challenging Spring Creek. Donned in their red checkerboard shirts, white suspenders and blue jean bottoms, the ballists from Mumford, New York epitomized the essence of a true base ball club. They fielded the leather extremely well and struck it just as violently. The only two things that hit harder that afternoon on the field of Great Meadow was the rains and the sounds of thunder that accompanied it. The Eclipse tallied one ace in the first when Bender singled home Cuppa, but it proved an uphill battle against a club as defensively talented as Spring Creek.
Trailing four runs to one in the fourth inning, the Eclipse were able to tally another ace when TinMan doubled home an elusive Stitch from second. However the momentum could not be sustained as the match was delayed on two instances caused by aggressive rain storms. Trailing nine runs to two in the fifth inning, the Eclipse returned from a rain delay to plate three runs and cut the Spring Creek lead to four runs. A strong defensive effort of their own in the sixth inning seemed to instill a rainbow’s chance of hope on the horizon. Two quick outs to lead off the inning dampened spirits a bit, but three straight singles from the top of the Eclipse order gave cause for a sunny disposition. Up walked TinMan to the plate with the bases full and he lifted an acceptable offering to the outfielder in right that was held in his hands just before a thunderous boom from the skies above echoed around the field. The base ball gods had spoken and there would be no more playing ball this day as the Eclipse fell to Spring Creek, nine to five in six innings.
The next day the Eclipse, obviously feeling well-rested because they welcomed the early morning eight o’clock match time, met up with Live Oak on the friendly field of Upper Staging. They quickly likened the offerings being sent by the hurler from Live Oak as they tallied five in the first inning and four more the next inning. Mac and Trouble continued their display of properly hitting fair balls that no fielder could reach while each assisted in driving in three runs each. Their happiness was tempered when one of their members sustained a sprained finger while trying to field a ball on the fly in left field. Cuppa, attempting a new method of catching objects in the air, discovered that when the hands are not positioned properly to field a ball in the air, not everything is awesome. However, his discomfort didn’t carry over to holding a stick as he continued to strike well in the match collecting four hits, second only to his team mate, Bender, who accounted for five safe hits. On this morning, the Live Oak squad was just simply overmatched against the Northville club settling for an eighteen to nine loss. The miles logged on the trip began to feel less daunting on the way back home for the Eclipse as they now stared at the possibility of splitting their matches over the weekend. They would now face the host Rochester club, who with their earlier three wins in the tournament would seek to gain a spot in the championship game. Competition is said to bring out the best in some people. Surely being looked on as an unlikely favorite to begin the match, the Eclipse found themselves rather jovial and loose amongst themselves. Their one key to playing competitive matches earlier in the season was their sure-handed fielding. The appearance of such good fortune found its way back to the club from Northville on its return to Silver Park. A scoreless first inning from both clubs set the stage for the Eclipse to take an early lead on their next striking appearance. Mac moved Bender over to second after a key hit to third with two strikers dead. Trouble delivered the first run as the next striker and Rev followed it up with an assisted single to center scoring a sprinting Mac just ahead of a close throw at home base. Holding on to a two to one lead, Frisco lead off the fourth inning by surprising his opponents in the field and switching over to the right side of the plate. An infield single lead to a run as TinMan moved him to third on a single to center and Bender drove him home with a fly to right field.
The Eclipse continued to showcase solid fielding when on the grass. This seemed to apply more pressure on a Rochester team accustomed to putting up crooked numbers and eventually tallying double digits. As the Northville club continued to play well throwing and fielding the sphere, their bats also continued to strike well. Mac and Trouble led off the fifth inning with consecutive singles and then seemed destined to be left out there without the thrill of coming home when the Rochester club was able to retire the next two strikers. However, Louie found a perfect section of grass in left field to drop his run scoring hit and Stitch followed suit with another run scoring hit to left. Suddenly the Eclipse led the match 5 to 1 and the not only had the momentum shifted in favor of an upset win for the Eclipse, but the multitude of cranks that had begun to assemble in the grandstand behind the Eclipse bench was witnessing and feeling it as well. Rochester quickly tallied one, but the Eclipse bats remained relentless in response. Although the Eclipse couldn’t tally runs in the ensuing three innings, they were showing Rochester that this match would not be an easy one for them to win. As the final frame started, Frisco led off the inning with a hard single to center. TinMan and Bender echoed their at bats with strong singles to the outfield, but the equally strong arms of the Rochester outfield and their close positioning to the infield offered little room for chances to score. The pivotal moment in the game came from Ribs as he drove home Frisco with a line shot up the middle that eventually forced Bender out at second. However, Ribs had delivered the sixth run for the Eclipse and gave them a 6 to 2 lead going into the bottom of the ninth. Nothing is assured in base ball. Different circumstances present new challenges for what may seem to be obvious answers. A four run lead may seem safe in base ball, especially if you consider that only 3 outs are required to end it, but this is indeed why so many of us love this game. A series of defensive miscues by the Eclipse and a key hit to right center by Rochester allowed the tying runner to reach first base with two hands dead. However, just as quickly as Lady Luck seemed to shine her face on Rochester, she winked at the Eclipse and saw to it that the third and final out of the inning would rest in the hands of their catcher, Ribs, who in the top of the very same inning would be credited with driving in the deciding run. A boisterous crowd of cranks celebrated the seemingly improbable win for the Eclipse and Rochester was left just short of a perfect tournament record and the opportunity to play for the Silver Ball title in front of its own cranks.
Next up for the upstart Eclipse from Northville is a date on Walnut Grove in Greenfield Village against the 2016 World Tournament of Historic Base Ball Champion, Lah De Dahs.