Maine Diamond Dogs 5, Athletics 2.

By Rod Johnson

Tempe Diablo Stadium, October 30, 2011-

Matt Crandall’s three-run double in the third inning proved to be the game winner for the Diamond Dogs in the Father and Son American championship game.

Matt got plenty of help from dear old dad in this one — Clair Crandall knocked in the team’s other two runs in Maine’s 5-2 victory.

Oh, by the way, Drew Crandall also chipped in with a run scored as the trio went 3-for-8, scored twice and had 5 RBI and a double.

Major League Baseball has had only two father-son combinations on the same team in its 112 year history. The MSBL tops that total many times over during each tournament. The father-son series gives families a chance to compete together while offering a unique bonding experience. It also creates opportunities for some dinner-table bragging rights.

The Crandalls, Clair and his two sons, made a friendly wager before the start of the tournament. “We made a little side bet that the guy that carried the least offensive numbers would buy the other two supper,” explained Crandall. “And I guarantee that I’m not going to be the one paying.”

“We embrace the fact that this is father and son baseball,” said Clair. “It is all about the experience and having fun. We wear this jersey with a lot of pride.”

The Athletics eliminated the Maine in the playoffs in each of the two previous years, so they knew that these dogs had a bone to pick. “They have an incredible team,” raved A’s manger Bob Sherwin before the game. “We beat them last year in the semis, so I knew that they would be out for blood.”

Like Crandall, Sherwin says that the family aspect is the best part of the father and son games. “My son and I have been involved in father and son games since their inception in 1998,” said Sherwin. “My son lives in Texas and I don’t get to see him very much. For him to come out here, help me keep score and get a couple of at-bats, that’s what it’s all about.”

In addition to the memories, the game also produced a champion. It was a tale of two pitches. In the third inning with two out, Matt Crandall stroked a bases loaded, 3-2 fastball to center field to clear the bases and stake the Diamond Dogs to a 5-0 lead.

“No one is more upset that Tom (Klawitter),” grimaced Sherwin. “He had the hitter where he wanted him but he got his pitch out over the plate. The guy (Crandall) is a good hitter and he got it.” Trailing 5-1 in the seventh, the Athletics loaded the bases against Ian Feummeler. Jimmy Barker Jr., who had already walked and slapped an RBI single, worked the count to 3-2. Barker was called out on a borderline pitch ending the rally and the Athletics chances for a comeback.

Bonding isn’t limited to families however, and this year’s tournament was bittersweet for Clair Crandall. “I found out when I got out here that one of the absolute great people in MSBL, Dennis Viegas of the Sacramento Tribe, passed away,” Crandall lamented. “I’ve been playing in this tournament for 14 years and you always meet a few people that stick out. Dennis stuck out to me. It’s really sad to not have him out here with us.”

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Athletics 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 2 6 1
Maine Diamond Dogs 0 2 3 0 0 0 0 0 x 5 5 1

Klawitter, Jim Barker Sr. (4), Pawelek (6) and Gould. Marc Powers, Ian Feummeler (6) and Max Arsenault. W- Powers. L- Klawitter. S-Feummeller. Leading Hitters-( Athletics) : Anthony Barker 2×3, 2B, R; Isaac Youshinaga 2×4, RBI; Jimmy Barker Jr. 1×2, RBI. Diamond Dogs: Max Arsenault 1×3, 2B, R; Matt Crandall 2×2, 2B, R, 3 RBI; Clair Crandall 1×3, 2 RBI. DP- Athletics 1; Diamond Dogs 1. LOB- Athletics 9; Diamond Dogs 3