2023 54 National Division

Maine Diamond Dogs 4, Boston Wolfpack 2

Submitted by Clair Crandall, Diamond Dogs manager

The Maine Diamond Dogs rode the arm of Don Elledge and timely hitting to capture their first MSBL Holiday Classic 54+ National Division Championship, 4-2 over the Boston Wolfpack. In the final Elledge gave up eight hits through four innings but settled down to allow just two singles the remainder of the way in the 9-inning complete game gem.

The final game matched the Diamond Dogs and the Wolfpack for the third time in five years with the Pack defeating Maine in both 2019 and 2020. The entire Dogs team knew what they were up against by reputation (15 Holiday Classic Championships) and from playing them (Wolfpack) numerous times.

The Dogs jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second on a Tony Herron triple only to have Boston tie it on a line drive home run through a tough wind by Dave Oliver in the bottom of the inning. Boston would take a 2-1 lead in the third and it stayed this way until the seventh when Maine plated two. A walk to Ed Simmons was followed by a single from Dan “Doc” Proctor.  John Carriero then singled in Simmons with the tying run and Jim Dillon delivered the game-winning RBI.  Don Elledge made sure the lead held up and Maine played tough defense while adding an insurance run the in the ninth for the 4-2 win.

The playoffs started with the Dogs avenging their only loss, beating the Massachusetts Chiefs 13-4. This put the Dogs up against undefeated All-Star Baseball Academy, who had outscored their opponents 45-2 in pool play. This game was for the ages with pitching dominating through nine innings, resulting in a 2-2 tie and going to extras.  JT Tomilson for the All-Star and Jeff Ringling for Maine had held down two great offenses. Extra innings utilize the new rules with a runner on second to start the inning, as Maine put up two in the 10th but All-Star matched it with two of their own.

In the 11th, a leadoff walk by Ed Simmons was followed by a Jim Dillon single, then “Big” John Carriero ripped a double into the left field corner for the game-winning RBI. Jeff Ringling threw a perfect bottom of the 11th for an amazing complete game sending Maine to the finals.

Maine was led offensively by John Carriero and Pete Moran, both hitting .450 and tournament MVP Bill Bunton for outstanding defense and timely hitting. Ringling, Elledge, Proctor, and Jay Hoyt all had great outings on the mound and Maine played strong defense, ran the bases well, and used all 17 players on the roster in key situations.

“Good baseball with great friends never gets old”