The Tri-City Dawgs became National League champions of the United States Amateur Baseball League (USABL) with a 3-1 victory over the Marlboro Renegades.
The deciding hit came off the bat of Boots Smith, who drove in two runs with a single in the second inning. Pitcher Christopher Drummond threw a complete game, and the Dawgs played terrific defense behind him.
“Colin Heath played a flawless outfield and raked a key base hit,” said head coach Ducky Smith. “J.T. Jennings made the last two outs in left field and hit the ball well all weekend. Peter Righi made all the plays at first base and laid down two beautiful sacrifice bunts.”
The Dawgs earned their place in the championship game by going on the road and defeating Hillsborough by a score of 6- 3 for the USABL National League Eastern Division title.
In addition to their championship, the Tri-City Dawgs took second place in the Fair Haven Summer Heat Tournament for the third time in their history.
The USABL National League championship game was the last game the Dawgs would play together.
“It truly was a fairy-tale ending going out with our first-ever USABL crown in our last game,” Ducky Smith said.
The team formed in 2003 as the Fair Haven Diamond Dawgs. The name changed to the Tri-City Dawgs with the addition of players from Little Silver and Rumson.
Joey Luca, Ryan Seely and Drew Amato represented Little Silver. Chase Caruso, Jack Luby, Alex Riguardi, Andrew Litvin and Jake D’Amelio are all from Rumson.
Christopher Drummond, Colin Heath, J.T. Jennings, Peter Righi and Boots Smith were all on the original Diamond Dawgs.
Ducky Smith began coaching the team from the start. Over those seven years, Smith noticed improvements with each season
“They learned a lot about themselves as players and young men,” he said.
Smith coached alongside John Caruso and Bill Luby. Bill Heath, Jeff Seely and Larry Luca assisted the team as well.
“I have loved every minute of it. I will truly miss seeing them on the ball field next year,” Ducky Smith said. “The high school programs are lucky to have these kids next season, as they are each wonderful young men.”