Last Saturday in Bovina, the hometown Dairymen and the Fleischmanns Mountain Athletic Club split a doubleheader in the last contest of the season. The season series ended at four games to three, in favor of Bovina.
Game one began in a chilly fall drizzle as the Dairymen suited up for the first time this season without left field fixture Ben “the Gamer” Denison, who was out with a foot injury. As the faithful scurried for cover from the rain, the teams got on a seesaw that would carry through the entire day. Playing as the away squad, the Dairymen jumped to a first-inning lead with two runs in the top of the first behind singles from Dan “the Hands Man” Kehrer and Jake “Swan” Sackett. But the MAC plated one in the bottom half, and after blanking Bovina in the second, tallied two more to go up 3-2.
Like two heavyweight boxers who refuse to move in the face of repeated haymakers, the friendly rivals went at each other. Extra-base hits by Troy “Train” Tucker and “Swan” Sackett in the third put the Dairymen up 4-3, but the MAC plated two of their own in their half to pull back ahead by one. Toddy “Meatloaf” Possemato swatted base hits and scored in the fourth and the sixth, while Justin “Juice” Betterley added an RBI single in the fifth, and stiff Dairymen defense left Bovina up by three at the end of five and a half.
Three years into the tenure of captain Collin “Stumpy” Miller, the scrappy MAC have yet to give up on a game, and Saturday was no exception. Capitalizing on solid hitting a two Dairymen errors, the boys from Fleischmanns put up five in the bottom of the sixth to take the lead, 10-8.
But the game would take a sunny turn for Bovina. As the sky cleared and the sun came out in sporadic bursts, Bovina went station-to-station to plate four of their own. Capping a 4-5 effort in game one, “Swan” Sackett led off with a single and scored on “Juice” Betterley’s base knock. Betterley then scored on a single by Gary “Burns-eye” Burns—playing just 20 days after a knee surgery to give the Dairymen a full nine. Burns scored on another Kehrer slap single, who then stole second and came around on a Nick “Roughcut” Frandsen single. 1864 base ball at its finest.
In the eighth John “Chico” Finn, playing through a calf injury, swatted a single and came around to score what would be the winning run as Jack “Shucks” Stanton beat out the throw for his second hit of the game. The MAC would plate two in the bottom of the eighth to pull within one, but would leave the tying run on base in both the eighth and ninth. Bovina claimed game one by a score of 13-12.
Bovina was forced to alter its lineup in game two, as injuries forced “Burns-eye” Burns and “Chico” Finn to retire to the owner’s box. Taking their places were stalwart Ben “Diesel” Cairns, pressed into uniform as he arrived at the ballpark from his shift at the lumber yard, and newcomer Simon “and Garfunkel” Flaim, on furlough from Boston for the weekend. “Garfy” Flaim would take over in centerfield while “Diesel” Cairns took over on the pitcher’s plate.
Picking up right where they left off, the two titans traded blow for blow, toe-to-toe—this time in the sun of a colorful autumn day. Two in the first and one in the second for the MAC. Two in the second for the Dairymen, behind singles from Garfy, Diesel, and Shucks. Two more for the MAC in the top of the third. 5-2, MAC. Three in the bottom of the third for Bovina on RBI doubles from Swan and Diesel. Tied at 5 apiece.
Zeroes in the fourth. Tie ballgame. Tally one for Bovina in the fifth. Dairymen 6, MAC 5. Single tallies each in the sixth. Dairymen 7, MAC 6. One each for the MAC in the seventh and eighth. Dairymen 7, MAC 8.
Nothing in the top of the last for the MAC, and the game went to the bottom of the ninth with the Dairymen trailing by a single mark. In what had the makings of a storybook ending, the “Hands Man” began the ninth with a single, stole second, and scored on a “Roughcut” Frandsen double—the Captain’s only hit of game two. After “Train” Tucker reached on an error and MAC hurler intentionally walked the red-hot “Swan” Sackett, the bases were loaded with no outs and the winning run only 90 feet away. “Garfy” Flaim hit a line shot to the left fielder, but MAC stalwart Archie “Sawmill” Biruk made an improbable two-handed catch above his head to keep the runners at bay. One out, bases loaded. Tie game. Bottom of the ninth.
As “Diesel” Cairns hit one down the third base line, “Roughcut” Frandsen took off for home, sure that he had to beat the throw to win the game. But as he chugged, huffed, and slid into home and the catcher had yet to receive the ball, something strange happened. There went up a wild cheer, but not from the home squad Dairymen. Frandsen had just scored the winning run! Why did the opposing side cheer?
They cheered, it turned out, for their third baseman, veteran Franklin “Chopper” Davis. For “Chopper” had gambled it all, and won big. In what will certainly go down as one of the gutsiest plays in Delaware County Vintage Base Ball history, Davis did not flinch. Instead of throwing home to get the force and the single out, Chopper stepped on third and threw to first for a game-saving double play.
The Dairymen walked back out to the field for the tenth, having squandered their best opportunity to win the game.
The MAC scored one in the top of the tenth, and the Dairymen answered with a single tally of their own on singles from Shucks and Meatloaf. But with the winning run on second, “Roughcut” Frandsen grounded out to end the inning and send the game to the 11th. It was all too much for the black-and-white, and on the back of three hits and two errors, the MAC plated three runs to earn a split on the day. The final score of game two was 12-9 in favor of the MAC.
Our hats are off to you gentlemen, for a hard-fought day and a wonderful season played under some strange circumstances. Three cheers!
Special thanks goes out to all our fans and families who take the time to support us week in and week out. We couldn’t do it without you all. To Amelia Taylor, our photographer, we give a heartfelt “Hurrah!” for documenting our success, failure, and humanity on the field. To “Gamer” Denison, “Burns-eye” Burns, “Chico” Finn, and all the others nursing injuries after a long season, we wish a speedy recovery and good health for next year.
And finally, from me to all the ballplayers on each side, a warm smile. Thanks for making this project possible. See you on the beach.
Nick Frandsen, Cap’t