Most games in the Atlantic Stewardship Bank Inter-Church Softball League are played on hot summer days. However, that was certainly not the case for Opening Day 2017. It felt like a cool autumn night. The air was thin and the wind was blowing out. The balls were flying off the bats on both sides in record numbers. When HeritageTwo and ALRC met last season for the first time ever, the game was tied 8-8 after seven innings, a total of 16 runs. This year, both teams scored more than that on their own! HeritageTwo last year went on to win the game in extra innings. It’s the ONLY extra innings loss in the 13-year history for the Green&White. It also went down in the Archives as the first ever win in team history for HeritageTwo. The two teams would meet again later that year in the playoffs. A first round playoff game that 6th seeded ALRC won easily over 11th seeded HeritageTwo, mainly because the first year team was missing several key players, including their coach. In this year’s regular season game, HeritageTwo sent out a young lineup that includes no players over the age of 30. Most of the ALRC roster is well over the age of 30. However, this game was an opportunity for two of the younger ALRC players to get more playing time, since ALRC was missing two of their better veteran players (Dave DeWaalMalefyt and Scott D’Alessandro). This will be Dave’s 10th season for the Green&White, while D’Alessandro will be playing his 12th year on the team, missing only the first year of the Green&White back in 2005.
In the top of the first inning, young Chris VanderWall got to hit leadoff and he made the most of his opportunity, hitting a double, and then registering a stolen base. VanderWall scored the first run of the season for ALRC on an RBI single off the bat of last year’s ALRC Team MVP, Jason Young. Brett Fritzsch hit a double. Brian Churco followed with a 2-RBI double of his own that scored both Young and Fritzsch. In the preview, Botbyl talked at length about 12-year veteran Matt Ferri no longer playing on the team. Botbyl joked with Ferri that instead of replacing him with a young 23-year old ringer, Botbyl chose to replace Ferri’s roster spot with 45-year old Yrvy Gonzalez. He’s the father of Brandon’s best friend Pablo. Botbyl coached Brandon and Pablo together on Remax Junior Boys for 3 years, they are together again for the next 3 years on PBA Senior Boys, they will also be together in soccer, and Yrvy has already played in two softball fundraiser tournaments the past two years with ALRC players, so Botbyl feels this is the right fit for his team in 2017. Botbyl jokes that “as if Brandon and Pablo aren’t together enough, now our families can be together at church softball games too”. Last year, the Gonzalez family attended the Annual ALRC hot dog game and Botbyl had to tell Yrvy a couple times “no no no” as he tried to get out on the field to play several times. Well, it was a great start to Yrvy’s official ALRC career, as he hit an RBI single scoring Churco. The only other new player on ALRC this season is Christopher Cohen, son of Mike Cohen, basically taking the roster spot of the now retired softball career of Pastor Tom Larkin. Chris Cohen also hit a single in his first career at-bat before the inning ended. ALRC had jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead. HeritageTwo cut that deficit in half in the bottom of the first inning, scoring two runs, to cut the ALRC lead to 4-2 after one inning.
In the top of the 2nd inning, Joe Bosgra hit the first homerun of the season for ALRC, a solo shot. Three singles by Pastor Chris Jacobsen, Chris VanderWall, and Nick Schroeder loaded the bases. Jason Young drove them all in with a 3-RBI triple. Brett Fritzsch then blasted a 2-run HR. Brian Churco hit a double before the inning ended. ALRC was now ahead 10-2. In the bottom of the 2nd inning, HeritageTwo scored a pair of runs again, cutting the ALRC lead to 10-4 after two innings.
It seemed like the ALRC offense might slow down in the top of the 3rd inning. With two outs, only Mike Cohen was on base thanks to a single. However, ALRC then registered EIGHT consecutive hits. Singles by Pastor Chris Jacobsen and Dan Bosgra loaded the bases again. Chris VanderWall’s 2-RBI single scored both Mike Cohen and Jacobsen. Nick Schroeder’s 2-RBI triple scored both Dan Bosgra and VanderWall. Jason Young’s RBI single scored Schroeder. Brett Fritzsch ripped another 2-run HR!! Brian Churco then went back-to-back hitting a solo HR of his own. Scott Botbyl capped off the 8-run inning with a double. In the bottom of the 3rd inning, HeritageTwo scored 3 runs in historical fashion, by hitting back-to-back-to-back HR’s. The last time an opponent hit three consecutive HR’s off Botbyl was a 2008 game against Cedar Hill. The score was 18-7 ALRC after three innings. Botbyl told a HeritageOne player attending the game, probably 200 games played if adding in his time playing with UnityOne, “that’s the turning point of the game right there, but they are a young team, they will learn”. Botbyl feels that if they hold us scoreless, like they should have, then the score would be 10-7, but HeritageTwo would have all the momentum.
That would turn out to be even more significant when ALRC was held scoreless in the top of the 4th inning. Only singles for Mike Cohen and Pastor Chris Jacobsen. HeritageTwo was also held scoreless in the bottom of the 4th inning, so the score remained 18-7.
ALRC put the game away in the top of the 5th inning. Chris VanderWall hit a leadoff double and then scored on an RBI double by Nick Schroeder. Jason Young’s RBI single scored Schroeder. Brett Fritzsch and Brian Churco each hit singles to load the bases. Scott Botbyl then hit a grand slam HR. Yrvy Gonzalez hit a double. Chris Cohen hit a single. Joe Bosgra’s RBI single scored Gonzalez. Pastor Chris Jacobsen capped off the inning with an RBI single scoring Chris Cohen. The ALRC lead was now a commanding 26-7. HeritageTwo scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the 5th inning to make the score 26-9.
The ALRC offense was sent down in order for the first time this season 1-2-3 in the top of the 6th inning. HeritageTwo was only able to manage one run in the bottom of the 6th inning, as Botbyl was able to turn the first double play this season for the ALRC defense. It was 26-10 after six innings.
In the top of the 7th inning, Brian Churco hit a lead-off double and Scott Botbyl hit a single. Yrvy Gonzalez hit an RBI single scoring Churco. Mike Cohen’s RBI single scored Botbyl. Pastor Chris Jacobsen capped off the inning with an RBI single scoring Gonzalez. In the bottom of the 7th inning, HeritageTwo had their best inning of the game, erupting for 7 runs. ALRC gets the win in a very high scoring opening day contest by a score of 29-17.
This was just one of those days where everyone (on both teams) hit well based on the weather and many other factors. This game was also a rare game that the Botbyl family didn’t attend. Botbyl said afterwards, “they had a girl on their team, she played well, in my 13 years, we have never had a female play for us, but if my wife attended, I would have sent her up to bat in the last inning to make team history, because I think even she would have gotten a hit today”.
23 batters and all of them had impressive stats. The HeritageTwo pitcher and coach had a perfect box score, so he played really well. ALRC players that a perfect box score were both Brian Churco and Pastor Chris Jacobsen, as they each went 5 for 5.
ALRC is now 1-1 in regular season games against HeritageTwo. ALRC is 1-0 against them in the playoffs.