The Oaklands Cup

As the moment grew nigh to begin the Oaklands Cup competition last weekend, and the Cumberlanders stretched and preened before myriad photographers, sportively hurling stitched leather orbs to one another like so many promises of future successes on the field of play, the skies above cleared and the sun began to smile down upon the base ball grounds, symbolic of the hopes of the team whose blouses matched the newly teal blue sky overhead.

Alas! the skies did not forecast well the Cumbermens’ fortunes on this day as the Hermitage dwellers would fall short in both of their balling efforts, dunked 10-7 by the Scouts of Stones River in the matinee, and then left behind again (that is to say, Marooned) in the nightcap, 5-2, by the bibbed crew from Nashville.

But those teal skies did seem oh so honest as the day began! Sporting a new lineup that led off with its most hirsute campaigners, orange-bearded Burnside lashed a wrong-side two-bagger, followed by Ozark of the red chin-nest with a single safety. Three batsmen later, a trio of runs had crossed. Dollar Bill, in his debut as a member of the tan and blue, hit a cloud-scraper to left that plated an ace by means of a sacrifice. Then, after Catfish had a base-knock, Professor belted one to short that seemed a sure double-killing. However, the throw to first went errant and when the dust cleared the Cumberlanders were looking poised to deliver a long-delayed message to the Scouts. ‘Twas Uncle Jesse’s crew that gave up seven in the last frame of a first-round contest against our Cumberlanders in last year’s Sulphur Dells tournament, and here it seemed as if the blueshirts were finally delivering those last three plates that would have won that September contest, which has left us to toss and turn in our bedsheets these six months since, wondering Oh! Oh! What might have been!

But rhetorical comeuppances do not win sporting contests, dear reader, and this day would again belong to others than the men in shiny suspenders. Again there would be a late rally, with four coming home in the seventh frame, but this only made for a sad echo of the too-little, too-late Fall encounter.

In the nightcap, a tense, defensive-minded affair went awry in the fifth frame, and the sky-blouses seemed to lose the springs in their legs as the game went on, going one-two-three in the first, fourth, and last frames. As he had in the first contest, Catfish, while nursing a chest wound from a banging he took in the outfield in a rainy scrimmage game earlier in the month, nevertheless went two-for-four, to make four hits of seven for the day. He was joined in the firmament of hitting stars on the afternoon by Spoons, who was four-for-five on the day, including three bingles in his last three trips to the dish. The day was also full of standout defensive plays, none better than when in the late match, a throw from across the diamond pulled the diminutive Rip two strides off the sack at first. Sensing a close play, Rip lunged back with the horsehide sphere clenched in a single outstretched bare hand to his full five-and-a-half feet, touching ball to bag a half-step ahead of a careening Maroon.

The Cumberlanders will trade innings again with the Scouts on the seventh day of April at the Ravenswood Mansion in Smith Park, in Brentwood, for the second game of their sophomore campaign.

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