In the preview for this game, the 7 prior meetings between these two teams was spelled out in great detail. Other than one game, most of the games had one thing in common, the team that won, played better defensively. ALRC had won the first 6 meetings against St Paul’s, mainly because they played better defense. Last year, when St Paul’s upset ALRC for the first time, the final score was 11-5. Coach Scott Botbyl stated “they gave us a taste of our own medicine, winning a low scoring game, so I think this game is going to be decided by the defenses yet again, as the winning team is likely to be the one that doesn’t make many errors”. It seems like a simple concept, but there’s a similar theory in the NFL too, don’t turn the ball over, and it usually translates into wins. Some of the best NFL games are when neither team turns the ball over. Well, that’s basically what we saw in this game, as both teams played basically perfect defense throughout the entire contest. There were no obvious or no costly errors, which meant each run scored offensively was earned, and that each at-bat became more and more important as this back and forth game would come right down to the very end, as these two teams played their most exciting game in their 8-year history.
St Paul’s got on the scoreboard first and took the early lead in the top of the 1st inning, scoring a pair of runs on a 2-RBI double off the bat of their coach/captain.
ALRC answered right back in the bottom of the 1st inning. Dan Bosgra singled. Dave DeWaalMalefyt hit a double. Scott Botbyl’s RBI sac fly scored Dan Bosgra. Brian Churco then blasted a 2-run HR. Brett Fritzsch singled before the inning ended. ALRC had taken a 3-2 lead after the 1st inning.
In the top of the 2nd inning, St Paul’s scored a run to tie the game. It could have been more, but the ALRC defense made an outstanding play. It appeared like St Paul’s had registered a single to RF on a hard line drive base hit, however, it went right to Dan Bosgra, who quickly fired a laser to first baseman Jason Young for the out.
With the score tied at 3-3 in the bottom of the 2nd inning, Jason Young hit a lead-off triple. Unfortunately for ALRC, they were sent down in order after that 1-2-3, leaving Young stranded at 3rd base for all 3 outs. It was 3-3 after two innings, but it seemed like the momentum was now on the St Paul’s side.
St Paul’s scored two runs in the top of the 3rd inning to get the lead back again, 5-3. Again, it could have been more, but the ALRC defense made a great play. This time, it was 3rd baseman Brett Fritzsch, who made a running over the shoulder catch on a ball hit into foul territory. ALRC now had an opportunity to get the momentum right back. However, the ALRC bats were sent down in order 1-2-3. Coach Scott Botbyl feels that “being sent down in order is not good, being sent down in order when there’s a runner on 3rd base with no outs is just bad, but six straight outs that’s really bad, luckily our guys didn’t allow that to get us down, and we stayed focused”.
In the top of the 4th inning, St Paul’s again tacked on two more runs, thanks to a 2-run HR. A brief scare for everyone in that inning as Botbyl caught a line drive right back up the middle on a ball that was heading directly at his face on a sizzling shot off the bat of their number 5 hitter. St Paul’s was now leading 7-3. ALRC responded with their best inning of the game in the bottom of the 4th inning. Matt Ferri started things off by hitting a lead-off single, then stealing 2nd base. Dave DeWaalMalefyt followed with a single of his own. Brian Churco’s RBI double scored Ferri. Brett Fritzsch then scored both of them on a 2-RBI triple! Nick Schroeder’s RBI single scored Fritzsch. Schroeder then stole 2nd base. Jason Young’s RBI single scored Schroeder. Chris VanderWall singled before the inning ended. The 5-run inning had given ALRC the lead 8-7 after four innings.
St Paul’s was held scoreless for the first time in the game in the top of 5th inning. The ALRC defense had to make two outstanding catches in the outfield though in order to maintain the lead. LF Brian Churco made a sliding catch on a ball he was running in to get, while CF Matt Ferri made a running catch towards the deep left-centerfield gap. In the bottom of the 5th inning, it was now St Paul’s showcasing their defense. After a single by Nick Ferraro, they turned a double play to keep ALRC scoreless in that inning as well. It remained 8-7 after five innings.
In the top of the 6th inning, St Paul’s was held scoreless again. Two more outstanding plays by the ALRC defense, and both involved 3rd baseman Brett Fritzsch. He made the 2nd out of the inning, running in on a shallow pop-up. The inning ended when the St Paul’s base runner tried to get from 1st to 3rd on a base hit to the outfield, but SF Chris VanderWall made a nice one hop throw to Fritzsch at 3rd base, he fielded it cleanly and got the tag down for the out.
Still leading 8-7 in the bottom of the 6th inning, ALRC was desperate for some insurance runs. Matt Ferri hit a lead-off single. After getting a couple of pointers from Gene D’Alessandro in-between innings, along with some words of encouragement, Scott Botbyl then ripped a 2-run HR. Brett Fritzsch recorded a single before the inning ended. ALRC had now increased their lead to 10-7 after six innings.
In the top of the 7th inning, St Paul’s answered right back with their best offensive output of the game. Five straight hits to start the inning, it led to 4 runs in all, to give St Paul’s an 11-10 lead.
In the bottom of the 7th inning, Nick Schroeder started things off with a lead-off single. He then stole 2nd base to move into scoring position, representing the run that would tie the game. Jason Young did just that with an RBI single scoring Schroeder to tie the game at 11-11. Joe Bosgra’s one-out single moved the winning run (Jason Young) to 3rd base. He was stranded there earlier in the game, but not this time. 2014 Team MVP Wayne Eicher was supposed to miss the game. He got out of work early, so he surprised everyone and just showed up at the start of the game. Good thing for ALRC that he did, because Wayne Eicher played the role of hero delivering the game winning walk-off hit to score Jason Young!
Coach Botbyl called the game “a character win”. Entering the last inning, the bottom of the lineup was struggling. The 10, 11, 12, and 13 hitters for ALRC were a combined 1 for 8. However, with the team trailing and needing them most, Joe and Wayne came thru in the clutch.
ALRC wins this extremely well defensive played game by both teams 12-11. ALRC has now won 3 straight games and improves to 5-1 on the season. It matches their 2nd best start in the Green & White’s 11-year history. ALRC began the 2010 season 6-0 after their first 6 games, which is down in the Archives as their best ever start to a season.
There were TWO players with PERFECT box scores for ALRC. They were:
Jason Young – 3 for 3 (single, double, triple, 2 RBI’s, game winning run scored)
Brett Fritzsch – 3 for 3 (2 singles, triple, Run, 2 RBI’s)
These two teams have never met in the playoffs, but perhaps that will change this year. Coach Botbyl says that “from what I’ve seen of them lately, I get the feeling that they are going to win a first round playoff game this season and that we’ll see them again this year in the 2nd round”. The Green & White are now 7-1 all-time versus Saint Paul’s during the regular season.