Read Chapter XVI - "TED'S TERRORS" FULL OF FIGHT of The Grammar School Boys in Summer Athletics, free online book, by H. Irving Hancock, on ReadCentral.com.

The umpire’s quiet voice called the captains of the nines apart.

“Who’ll call the toss?” asked Ben.

“Let Teall do it,” Dick answered.

“You do it, Prescott,” urged Captain Ted.

“Well, which one of you is going to call?” inquired Tozier.

“Teall,” Dick again answered.

“Oh, all right, then,” nodded Ted.  “I suppose, Prescott, you feel that, whichever way I call, I’d wish I’d taken the other way.”

The coin spun upward in the air, for Ben Tozier was a master of the art of flipping.

“Tails,” announced Teall.

“It’s heads this time,” announced Umpire Tozier.  “Captain Prescott?”

“We’ll go to bat, then,” decided Prescott.  “We might as well begin to pile up the score that we’re going to make.”

“We’ll show you how you’re not going to make it,” Ted grinned.  “Remember, Prescott, that I and Wells are the battery to-day.”

“What you need,” laughed Dick, “is a good right fielder and a star third baseman.”

“Huh!” grunted Teall.

“Get to your places,” ordered Tozier briskly.  “We want to end this game some time to-day.”

The umpire inspected a new ball, then sent it grounding to Teall.  Back and forth between the members of the South Grammar battery the ball passed three times.

“Play ball!” called the umpire sharply.

Tom Reade already stood by the plate.  He swung his stick idly, watching Teall.  Along came the ball.  Tom judged it and hit at it.

“Strike one!” called Tozier, shifting a pebble to his left hand.

Ted grinned derisively as he twisted the leather for the next throw.

“Ball one!” and a bean followed the pebble into the umpire’s left hand.

“Strike two!  Ball two!  Ball three!”

Ted Teall began to feel angry over the growing pile of called balls.  He delivered one with great care.

Whack!  Tom never waited to see whether the ball was headed inside or outside of foul lines.  He simply dropped his willow, then gave his best exhibition of the sprinting that he had learned in the spring.

It was a fair ball that struck inside of left field.  South’s left fielder had to run in for the leather, which struck the ground, then rolled to one side.  Thump!  The ball landed neatly in the first baseman’s hands, but Tom had kicked the bag a second before.

“Runner safe,” drawled Tozier.

Spoff Henderson came next to bat.  Ted, with great care, struck him out.  Toby Ross met with similar disaster, nor did Reade have any chance to steal up to second.  Then Greg advanced to the plate.  He had his own favorite stick, which he swung with great confidence.

“Now, just see what I’ll do to you!” was what Ted Teall’s impudent smile meant.

Crack!  Holmes hit the first ball, reaching first and pushing Tom to second.

“Danny Grin, don’t fail us,” begged Prescott, as Dan started for the plate.  “Two men out, remember!”

As Dalzell faced the pitcher his grin was broader than Teall’s.

Two strikes and two balls were quickly called.  Some of Dalzell’s assurance was gone now, but he steadied himself down.  It would never do to strike out at such a time.

Then Danny Grin made his third strike, but he drove the ball ahead of him, forcing the right fielder of the Souths to run backward for it, but he missed the catch and by the time the ball was in circulation again the bases were full of Central Grammar runners.

“I’m glad you’re going forward,” whispered Dave, just as Dick started towards the plate, his favorite bat in hand.

“I’ll make a monkey of you,” muttered Teall, just loudly enough for the words to reach Prescott.

“If you can, you’re welcome,” grunted Dick under his breath.

Swat!  It was the first ball driven in.  Had there been a fence around the field that fair drive would have gone over it.  How it soared and then flew!  The right fielder who followed that ball was nervous from the start.  He panted as he fell upon the ball.

“Throw it to third!” yelled Teall.

“Just at that instant Dan Dalzell was nearing the home plate, which Tom and Greg had already passed.  Prescott’s ankle turned slightly or he would have got in ahead of the ball.

“Runner out at third,” called Tozier in a singsong voice.  “Side out!”

“Yet who cared?” Dick’s wonderful blow on the leather had brought three men in safe.

The Souths followed at bat.  One, two, three, Prescott struck them out.  Ted Teall’s face looked solemn, indeed.

“Wells, we’ve simply got to hold these fellows down,” grunted Teall to his catcher in the brief conference for which there was time.  “We don’t want to be walloped by a score of ninety-four to two.”

“I haven’t let anything get by me, have I?” grunted the catcher.

“No; but signal for some of my new ones.”

“I don’t want to put a crimp in your wing,” muttered Wells.

“That’s all right.  It’s a tough wing.  Don’t let the Centrals score anything on us in this inning.”

“I’ll do my best to help you hold ’em down,” promised the South Grammar catcher as he hurried to his place behind the plate.

Dave Darrin, to his intense disgust, was struck out on three of the most crafty throws that Teall had on his list.  Hazelton followed.  Another player reached first on called balls, but the next Central boy struck a fair, short fly that landed in Ted’s own hands.

“That was more like,” grunted Ted, as he met his catcher at the bench.  “In that first inning these Centrals had me almost scared.”

In the second half of this second inning the Souths scored one run.  They did the same in the third and the fourth innings, meantime preventing Prescott’s fellows from scoring again, though in the fourth inning Prescott saw the bases full with Centrals just before the third man was struck out.

In the fifth and sixth innings neither side scored.  At last the spectators began to realize that they were watching two well-matched nines.

“I can’t see that the Central Grammars are doing such a lot of a much,” grunted Hi Martin to a High School boy.

“The Centrals are playing fine ball,” retorted the High School boy.  “The only trouble is that the Souths rank pretty close to them.”

“I’d like to play both teams again,” asserted Hi.  “All that happened to us was that we struck a few flukes when we played.”

“Humph!” retorted the High School lad, just before turning away.  “Your North Grammar nine was kicked all over the field by both of these nines.  Both Prescott’s and Teall’s fellows have improved a lot since they met you.”

Hi subsided, feeling unhappy.  It hurt him to hear any one praise a fellow like Prescott.

“I wonder if they could beat us, if we had another try?” pondered Hi.  “But what’s the use of talking?  Prescott would never think of giving us another chance.  He’s too thankful to have lugged the score away from us before.”

In the eighth inning Teall brought in one more run for the Souths, who now led.

“We’ve got to work mighty hard and carefully,” grunted Tom Reade.

“Yes,” assented Dick briefly.

“We’re beaten, anyway, I guess,” sighed Hazelton.

Dick Prescott wheeled upon him almost wrathfully.

“We’re never beaten, Harry –­remember that.  We don’t propose to be beaten, and we can’t be.  We’re going to bat now to pile up a few more runs.  The championship is ours, fellows –­don’t let that fact escape you.”

“I wish I had Dick’s confidence,” sighed Harry, turning to Reade.

“It isn’t confidence; it’s nerve,” Tom retorted.  “If we all show nerve like Dick’s, then nothing but the hardest sort of luck can take this game away from us.”

Greg went first to bat, securing the first bag.  Dick followed, with a two-bagger that brought frantic cheers from the on-looking Central Grammar boys.

“There are our two runs –­the ones we need,” cheered Darrin to himself, as he snatched up his bat.  “Now if I’m any good on earth, I’ll bring Greg in and perhaps Dick, too.”

Though Dave was excited, he kept the fact to himself, facing Ted Teall with steely composure.

Two strikes and three balls were called.  The two base-runners, full of confidence in Darry, were edging off daringly.

“If I dared,” throbbed Dave inwardly, “I’d refuse and walk to first on a called ball.  But Tozier might call a strike on me –­most likely would.  Darry, you idiot, you’ve got to hit the next delivery, even if it goes by you ten feet from the line.”

Poising himself on tip-toe, Dave awaited the coming of the ball.  Wells, with a wicked grin, signaled for a ball that he felt sure would catch Dave napping.  Earlier in the game it might have done so, but Ted’s right “wing” was now drooping.  Hi did his best, but Dave reached and clubbed the leather.  In raced Greg, while Dick had a loafing time on his way to third.  Dave reached first in plenty of time.

Two men went out, leaving the nines tied.  Dick fumed now at third.

“I wish some one else than Henderson were going to bat,” groaned Prescott inwardly.

However, Spoff had the honor of his school desperately at heart.  He did his best, watching with cool judgment and backed by an iron determination to make his mark.  The third strike he hit.  It was enough to bring Prescott in.  Dick seemed to travel with the speed of a racing car, reaching the home plate just ahead of the ball.

The side went out right after that.

“What did I tell you?” breathed Dick jubilantly.  “We now stand five to four.”

“But Ted’s terrors have a chance at bat,” returned Hazelton.

“It won’t do them any good,” Captain Dick affirmed.  “Greg, signal for all the hard ones.  Don’t have any mercy on my arm.  This is the last inning and the last game of the series.  I can stand being crippled.”

“The last inning and the last game, unless the Souths score now,” Holmes answered.

“Don’t let ’em score!” Dick insisted.  “Remember, kill me with hard work, but don’t let the Souths score!”

Ted Teall went to bat first for his side.