2017 50+ National
Boston Wolfpack 3, Team Victory 2 (12 Innings)
‘Wolfpack Outlasts Team Victory in Battle of Heavyweights’
By Rodney Johnson, special to MSBL
October 20, 2017, Tempe Diablo Stadium, Tempe, AZ- Dave Benedict scored the go ahead run in the top of the 12th inning as the Boston Wolfpack outlasted Team Victory 3-2 to claim the 50 + WB National title. In a hard fought game, it was ironically a pair of errors that helped plate the game winner. Benedict led off the inning with a single to center. Jeff Fox laid down a sacrifice bunt that was mishandled by the catcher who then threw late to first for an error. Benedict kept on running and scored when the first baseman who handled the late throw, also made an error. Tournament MVP Mark Smith pitched 11 innings to earn the win. Former big leaguer Mark Whiten threw the final inning to pick up a save.
Sometimes baseball can be more than a game. Such is the case for a half dozen players on the Boston Wolfpack who traveled from hurricane ravaged Puerto Rico to participate in the 30th Anniversary of the MSBL World Series. Team spokesman Bob Iandoli explained: “It was a big challenge for our guys from Puerto Rico to get here. It has been really heartbreaking to see what has happened there and not to be able to see those guys ‘till this week. They have told us some real horror stories.” It has been four weeks since Hurricane Maria made landfall and nearly 80 percent of the island still has no electricity. The blackout has deprived residents of things like fans, refrigerators and televisions. Relief efforts have also been hobbled slowing the flow of basic needs such as food and water.
For Puerto Rican members of the Wolfpack, this was a week of getting back to a normal routine and to, at least briefly, escape the devastation suffered at home. “They have had a very difficult time, and a difficult time getting here, but it was important to them to be here,” said Iandoli. “They have been doing some shopping to take things home that will be important to their families. These are guys that have been with us for ten years, so it wouldn’t be the same without them. It really is a release for them. They enjoy playing baseball, they enjoy being around the team…we all support each other so this has been a good week for them to get away.”
The Wolfpack’s trip to the finals was their fourth straight time to face Team Victory. The other three trips all resulted in losses. “We started out slow,” said Iandoli. “We lost our first game and then won four in a row in pool play.” Team Victory won the pool with a 5-1 record while the Wolfpack finished 4-2. Dave Blackburn of Team Victory missed a pool play perfect game by one walk and got the nod to start the championship game. In the semifinals, the Wolfpack beat the So Cal Blue Jays 13-6, while Team Victory shutout US Baseball 4-0 to advance to the finals.
Team Victory is made of players from Southern California, primarily the San Diego area. Victory manager Dave Brunette praised the Wolfpack’s effort; “They are a great team. They play hard and get up off the deck better than any team I’ve ever seen.”
The title game started well for the Wolfpack with Jeff Fox scoring on a two-out error in the first inning. Team Victory pulled even in the fifth when Poky Sanchez scored on a sacrifice fly by Doug Thigpen. In the top of the sixth, the Wolfpack regained the lead on a two-out RBI single by Mike Smith, bringing home Mark Moise to make it 2-1. Down to its’ last out, Team Victory drew even in the ninth when Oscar Duran scored on an error. Both teams had runners thrown out at the plate in the 10th inning before the Wolfpack finally pushed across the winner in the 12th.
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 R H E
Wolfpack 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 10 2
Victory 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 2 11 3
Pitching Line: (Wolfpack) Mike Smith, Mark Whiten (12); (Victory) Dave Blackburn, Izzy Gonzalez (10)
WP: Smith LP: Gonzalez
2B: Bastian (BO)
Leading Hitters: Wolfpack- Mike Smith 2×5, RBI; Carmelo Bastian 2×5. Victory- Izzy Gonzalez 2×3.
SAC: Benedict (BO); Oliver (BO); Fox (V)
SF: Thigpen (V)
Team LOB: Wolfpack 9; Victory 11
Time of Game: 3:10