The 2017 Atlantic Stewardship Bank Inter-Church Softball League Regular Season is now complete. It came to an end with yet another entertaining game between ALRC and Pompton Plains. There was a good fan turnout for this game, and those people are smart. Afterall, the Mets and Yankees were both off, and with neither MLB teams in action, there’s not a better game you’ll see than these two teams playing each other. Regardless of what side people were cheering for, several fans walked away from the field afterwards saying “that was a great game”. Between these two teams, that’s usually the case. Coach Scott Botbyl says, “we are a good team, they are a good team, and when two teams are evenly matched, the games are often going to play out like that, back and forth, momentum swings, big hits, great defense, some emotion, the players that go out there and compete are good athletes, which is why during the playoffs, if my team doesn’t have a game or has been knocked out, I’m always there watching”. Botbyl also feels that it’s when his team doesn’t have a game, that’s when he actually gets to enjoy more fellowship with the other churches at it’s finest. Botbyl says that “during games, I’m pitching, I’m coaching, or I’m focused on the game, but when I’m not playing, I really like talking with the players, the people of the various churches that attend the games”.
This regular season finale was actually supposed to be played in the first week of May. There likely would have been a little more intensity to that game. Probably because it’s early in the season, guys are a little extra excited to get back out there and the Final Four game from the prior season is still fresh in everyone’s minds. However, the game was rained out. It got rained out again in June. So now, most guys are no longer thinking about the past, but instead their minds are probably focused on getting ready for this season’s playoffs, which starts in just a few days. And these two teams will likely put forth another good show for the people that come out and watch. Entering this game, the all-time series between these two teams was even 4-4, as they have gone 3-3 against each other during the regular season and 1-1 during the post-season. Coach Scott Botbyl feels that “today’s regular season game was probably the best atmosphere we have had at a game with these guys”. Botbyl chatted with a couple Pompton Plains players during pre-game warm-ups. It was great to have joint batting practice together. There were some jokes exchanged with players during the game. Hopefully the two teams can continue in this manner both during the playoffs and in the years to come.
Pompton Plains came out strong in the top of the first inning. Five consecutive hits, including a 3-run HR, gave Pompton Plains a quick 4-0 lead. ALRC came right back in the bottom of the first inning. Dave DeWaalMalefyt hit a single. Jason Young hit a two-out double. Brian Churco hit a 2-RBI triple. Brett Fritzsch capped off the inning with an RBI single. It was 4-3 Pompton Plains after the first inning.
In the top of the 2nd inning, Pompton Plains added a pair of runs to increase their lead to 6-3. Unfortunately for ALRC, they were sent down in order 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 2nd inning. It’s the 7th time this season that the Green&White have gone hitless in an inning.
Another pair of runs by Pompton Plains in the top of the 3rd inning, increased their lead to 8-3. ALRC had their best inning of the game in the bottom of the 3rd inning. Pastor Chris Jacobsen hit a lead-off single and then scored on an RBI triple by Nick Schroeder. Dave DeWaalMalefyt’s RBI single scored Schroeder. Jason Young hit a two-out single. Brian Churco’s RBI double scored DeWaalMalefyt. Brett Fritzsch’s 2-RBI double scored both Young and Churco. Joe Bosgra’s RBI single scored Fritzsch. The inning ended with an exciting out in a play at the plate. However, the six runs had now given ALRC their first lead of the game after three innings, 9-8.
Pompton Plains responded right back with another big inning of their own, scoring 4 runs to give themselves the lead again 12-9. ALRC answered in the bottom of the 4th inning, but it came after back-to-back outs to start the inning. Pastor Chris Jacobsen hit a single to begin the two-out rally. Scott Botbyl followed with a single of his own. Nick Schroeder hit a 3-run HR to tie the game at 12-12. It would seem like an exciting moment, but several ALRC players were laughing. Botbyl was told that after his hit, his youngest son Brett told a couple players “we need a 3-run HR here”. ALRC players told Botbyl’s young 7-year old son “just a hit”. But, little Brett insisted “or a HR”. Sure enough, it was Schroeder backing up the words of a child, which made Coach Botbyl join in on the laughing. “I do like though that the guys are teaching my boys correctly, because I tell the Little League kids, just a hit, don’t try for a HR” he said. Dave DeWaalMalefyt hit a double before the inning ended, but it was now even, 12-12, after four innings.
One more run for Pompton Plains in the top of the 5th inning, as they continued to score in every inning thus far, which gave them the lead again, 13-12. In the bottom of the 5th inning, Jason Young hit a lead-off single and then scored on an RBI triple by Brian Churco, which tied the game at 13. Brett Fritzsch then gave ALRC the lead again 14-13, thanks to an RBI sac fly scoring Churco. Dan Bosgra hit a single and then stole 2nd base. Chris Cohen hit an infield single as well before the inning ended. It was 14-13 ALRC after five innings.
The ALRC defense was finally able to hold Pompton Plains scoreless for the first time in the game in the top of the 6th inning. They had two hits, but they were unable to score. ALRC had a chance to increase their lead in the bottom of the 6th inning, but they were held scoreless as well. It remained 14-13 ALRC after six innings.
In the top of the 7th inning, Pompton Plains hit a dramatic 3-run HR to put themselves back out in front 16-14. Coach Scott Botbyl feels that “it wasn’t your typical no doubt about it type of HR that you see so often with Pompton Plains, it was actually one of those balls where I thought we might catch it, almost like in MLB when the outfielder is right up against the wall or the warning track, everyone knows it’s either going to be an out or a HR, and it was almost identical to a similar ball just a few innings earlier, the first time it was an out, this time, it’s a HR”. ALRC didn’t respond well at all in the bottom of the 7th inning, as they were sent down in order 1-2-3. It was the 8th hitless inning this season for the Green&White, coming at the worst time too. Coach Scott Botbyl said, “it’s bad enough having two hitless innings in one game, but even worse was the fact that we went scoreless in both the 6th and 7th inning, they only had one scoreless inning, while we had 3, and that was probably the difference in this game, as championship winning teams are usually able to find a way to at least manufacture one run an inning”.
The best box score for ALRC belonged to Brian Churco (3 for 3, double, 2 triples, 3 Runs, 4 RBI’s). Two other players that hit great for ALRC were Brett Fritzsch and Pastor Chris Jacobsen, as these two combined to go 5 for 5 (4 singles, double, 3 Runs, 4 RBI’s).
After the game, ALRC players were discussing the upcoming playoffs. Ironically, Botbyl’s oldest son Brandon asked “you tell me to watch Keith Spoelstra of Midland Park in the playoffs, to learn from him, because he’s the best player in the league, yet he’s no longer in the league, so who do you now think is the best player in the league for me to watch”. Botbyl said, “great question, I’d have to think about it, but I might go with Tyler Westra of Pompton Plains”. He was 5 for 5 today, with 3 singles, 2 doubles, 4 Runs, RBI. He also made several great plays at SS. He can do it all. Every time I see him, he has a great game, he impacts the outcomes of games, he sets the tone for his team at lead-off. Coach Scott Botbyl added to his son Brandon “I know you like when I get all the best players together after the season for either the old doubleaasports tournaments and now more recently Hawthorne’s Sasso softball fundraiser, having Keith in the past on those teams was always great, so maybe this year we can get Tyler to join in on our fun”. Coach Scott Botbyl has said for a long-time, “all the kids watching us and learning from us is a great thing, too bad Pablo missed this game, but he and his Dad will hopefully see a lot of great softball during the playoffs”.
ALRC finishes the regular season with a record of 5-5.
Pompton Plains now leads the regular season series 4-3. The two teams have met twice in the playoffs, splitting those games 1-1 each.