Saturday dawned cold and rainy in Winona Lake, Indiana, and it remained unchanged throughout the day. Unfazed, organizers of the Huzzah Hoosier Vintage Base Ball Tournament proceeded with the one-day event featuring nine teams from Indiana, Illinois and Michigan: Springfield Long Nine, Huntington Champion Hill Toppers, Indianapolis Hoosiers, Portage Iron Diamonds, Elkhart Bonneyville Millers, Chicago Salmon, Mulberry Manglers, Kent BBC, and the host Village at Winona Blue Laws.
The Kent Base Ball Club fielded a strong nine-man roster as they participated in the tournament for the fourth year. Playing for the Kents were:
Willmore, Adam , 3B
Hillen, Wade, CF
Brewer, Lance, LF
Ringler, David, SS
Thompson, Cameron, RF
Korreck, GF, 1B
Dailey, Scott, BH
Coger, Mike, H
Boles, Jim, 2B
As leadoff hitter, Willmore set the table throughout the day, with a combination of fair-foul and line drive hits, while Wade “Bunker” Hillen’s sterling defense took hits away from opponents while his own long hits beleagured other teams’ outfielders. Lance Brewer and David Ringler anchored the center of the lineup with steady hitting and tight defense. Although still adjusting to the challenges of vintage base ball fielding, Cameron Thompson showed great promise with the lumber in his hands. GF Korreck played a solid first base, and showed he has not lost his talent for opposite field hitting, and Scott Dailey continues to improve both the consistency and distance of his hits – and played an outstanding behind on the day. At the bottom of the order, hurler Mike Coger not only turned in a strong pitching performance, but demonstrated with his long drives, that opponents underestimate his power at their peril. Jim “Grandpa” Boles continued his fine fall performance with several base hits in each game, leading the team with total hits for the day.
In their first match, the Kents faced the Bonneyville Millers, a team with two youngsters taking the place of absent regulars. As a result, the Kents scored several runs in the first two innings behind long balls from Ringler, Brewer, Hillen, Boles, and newcomer Thompson that eluded their pasture-tenders. Building an 18-6 lead after their first three innings, the Kents then protected the cushion for a 26-9 victory.
The Kents’ second game was a closely contested affair against the Indianapolis Hoosiers that ended in a 9-inning, 8-8 tie. Once again featuring strong hitting throughout their lineup, the Kents took an early 6-3 lead and defended it with tight fielding. Centerfielder Wade Hillen made several outstanding catches, as did surehanded behind Scott Dailey. The Hoosiers tied the match at six in the sixth inning, benefiting from a combination of hard blows and softer strikes that fell just beyond the rach of on-coming Kent fielders. When both teams failed to score in the 7th inning, the captains agreed to play on. Neither team scored in the eighth inning. Then, in the ninth, the Kents plated two tallies behind a key hit by Lance Brewer. The Hoosiers came back with two aces of their own when their first base tender hit a drive into the wooded area behind right fielder Cameron Thompson, circling the bases behind a teammate who had previously made a one base hit, for two tallies. The umpire then deemed the game a tie after nine innings in order to allow the next scheduled match to begin on time.
Tired, wet, and disappointed to have not won their match with the Hoosiers, the Kents nonetheless moved on immediately to their final match of the day where they defeated the Village at Winona Blue Laws 14-6.
In voting at the end of the day, representatives of all participating teams voted the Springfield Long Nine who had a 3-0 record for the day, the tournament champions.
The Kents final games of the 2009 season will be in the Northern Illinois Vintage Base Ball Tournament, held at the Faltz Family Vineyard in Sheridan Illinois 2714 E4251st Road, Sheridan IL 60551.