It was the 2nd ever playoff meeting between ALRC and Pompton Plains. Their first playoff meeting came in 2011, which was Pompton Plains first season in the league. That game was a second round playoff game, an elimination game, won by Pompton Plains 20-17. Even though this game was a Final Four Game (double elimination), both teams had already lost once. ALRC lost their Final Four Game on Friday to Midland Park, while Pompton Plains lost on Friday to UnityOne in their Final Four Game. So again, just like 2011, another playoff elimination game between ALRC and Pompton Plains. The only other difference is their seeds. Back in 2011, ALRC was the #1 seed, best team during the regular season. This year, Pompton Plains was the top seed for being the best team during the regular season.
In the top of the first inning, it seemed like ALRC was going to get off to a nice start. The Green&White loaded the bases thanks to singles from Dave DeWaalMalefyt, Brett Fritzsch, and Brian Churco. However, ALRC was unable to score. Pompton Plains was actually able to get off to a really fast start in the bottom of the first inning. Five consecutive hits from the first five hitters, it led to all five of them scoring, as Pompton Plains batted around, taking a quick 5-0 lead after one inning.
ALRC scored their first run of the game in the top of the 2nd inning, thanks to a solo HR off the bat of Nick Schroeder. Pompton Plains got that run right back though in the bottom of the 2nd inning, with a leadoff solo HR as well. After two innings, Pompton Plains maintained their five run lead, with a score of 6-1.
After going thru the lineup once, the ALRC offense began to come to life in the top of the 3rd inning. With one out, both Dave DeWaalMalefyt and Jason Young hit singles. Brett Fritzsch’s RBI single scored DeWaalMalefyt. Brian Churco’s RBI sac fly scored Young. Scott D’Alessandro capped off the inning with a 2-run HR. The Pompton Plains lead was now cut to 6-5. Pompton Plains got two singles in the bottom of the 3rd inning, but they were unable to score.
ALRC tied the game in the top of the 4th inning, basically by manufacturing a run. Matt Ferri showed great patience at the plate, drawing a two-out walk, when it seemed like the Green&White might be sent down in order. Dan Bosgra kept the inning alive with a single. Dave DeWaalMalefyt’s RBI single scoring Ferri tied the game at 6-6. Pompton Plains answered right back with a strong bottom of the 4th inning, scoring 5 runs, re-establishing their five run margin, leading 11-6 after four innings. Coach Botbyl says, “they had two stolen bases that inning too, and that’s something they should take a lot of pride in, since it’s very rare that people can steal off our catcher, because for over a decade, Joe Bosgra has done an outstanding job of not allowing runners to steal base”.
Pompton Plains had never trailed, and was in control the entire first half of the game, but all the momentum changed in the top of the 5th inning. Brian Churco started the comeback with a one-out triple. Scott D’Alessandro’s RBI double scored Brian Churco. Nick Schroeder followed with a hit of his own. Scott Botbyl then cut the deficit to 11-9 with a 2-run double scoring both D’Alessandro and Schroeder. With two outs now, and Botbyl still on base, the runner to tie the game again came to bat, as 12-year veteran Matt Ferri stepped to the plate. Ferri lined a two-out, 2-run HR to centerfield, to tie the score 11-11. Dan Bosgra hit a single and then scored on an RBI double by Dave DeWaalMalefyt to give ALRC their first lead of the game! Jason Young capped off the inning with an RBI single scoring DeWaalMalefyt. The seven-run 5th inning was the best of the game for the Green&White, as ALRC was leading 13-11. After that offensive explosion, ALRC then showcased their defense in the bottom of the 5th inning. Pompton Plains was held scoreless only because of third baseman Brett Fritzsch, who accounted for all 3 outs that inning.
ALRC failed to increase their lead in the top of the 6th inning. In fact, it was the Green&White’s worst hitting of the game, as they were sent down in order 1-2-3. Luckily for ALRC, Pompton Plains was unable to score in the bottom of the 6th inning. Pompton Plains in back-to-back innings, had registered a pair of hits, but this time they were unable to bring any runs home because of the outfield, as all 3 outs this inning were to LF, CF, and RF. The score remained 13-11 after six innings.
In the top of the 7th inning, both ALRC fans and players knew, and it was no secret, that their two run lead wasn’t going to be enough to win this game. The Green&White were going to need as many insurance runs as they could possibly generate. Scott Botbyl began the inning with a lead-off single. With one-out, a wild scenario unfolded as Botbyl somehow managed to pull off 2 stolen bases on the same play. Just like earlier in the game when Pompton Plains had 2 SB’s, these were the only 2 SB’s of the day for ALRC. Botbyl says, “if you look back in the Archives, I’ve made reference to their catcher often, because he’s one of the best in the league at his position, it’s extremely rare that you get SB’s against him too, as that never happens, so I know I got lucky as well”. Botbyl then scored on an RBI single by Matt Ferri. Dan Bosgra then hit an RBI triple scoring Ferri. Dave DeWaalMalefyt’s RBI sac fly scoring Dan Bosgra increased the ALRC lead to 16-11. With 2 outs now, Jason Young kept it going with a double, and then he scored on an RBI double by Brett Fritzsch. Brian Churco’s RBI double scored Fritzsch. Scott D’Alessandro’s RBI single scored Churco. Nick Schroeder hit a single as well before the inning ended. ALRC scored 6 runs in all that inning, giving them a commanding 19-11 lead.
Just as everyone suspected, Pompton Plains responded with their best offensive explosion of the game in the bottom of the 7th inning. This time, they started off the inning with 6 consecutive hits from 6 straight batters, for 6 total runs, capped off by a 3-run HR. Still with no outs, the ALRC lead had already been cut to 19-17. The Green&White were then able to barely hold on for the win, as the next 3 batters for Pompton Plains all made outs to centerfielder Matt Ferri. Botbyl feels that “Ferri deserved this type of game, he earned being able to shine in this moment, 12 years in the league, during that time he’s had three surgeries, twice on his knees, and once on his shoulder”. Each time you think Ferri’s softball career might be over, he keeps coming back, as playing softball on this team fuels his painful rehabs. Besides catching the final 3 outs, Ferri’s final box score reads, 3 for 4, 2 singles, HR, 3 Runs, 3 RBI’s. The dramatic HR by Ferri in this game was actually his 2nd career playoff HR for the Green&White, but his first with the letters ALRC on his shirt. Ferri’s other playoff HR, ironically was the last ever game for SRC, a 2008 second round playoff loss to UnityOne.
Other impressive box scores for ALRC:
Dave DeWaalMalefyt – 4 for 4 (3 singles, double, 2 Runs, 3 RBI’s)
Dan Bosgra – 3 for 3 (2 singles, triple, 2 Runs, RBI)
Brian Churco – 3 for 4 (single, double, triple, 2 Runs, 2 RBI’s)
From 6:30pm to 8:00pm, these two teams put on a fantastic show. The atmosphere the entire game was intense, as all 21 players from the two teams that competed absolutely gave it everything they had inside of them. Many people were quite impressed too, as the talent level both these teams play with, it’s amazing, especially compared to some other softball leagues that people can play in. Unfortunately, when these two teams get together, it continues to be different. It’s just not the same as Midland Park vs UnityOne or ALRC vs Faith Hill, or Sixers vs St Paul’s, etc.
It was the 2nd playoff meeting between these two teams. Botbyl easily recalls the 2011 playoff meeting, calling that game back then “a black eye for the league”. Botbyl says, “each and every person from both teams that day in 2011, especially me, no one should be proud of how they conducted themselves, it was certainly a low point for my 16-year career, and there is no one to blame but ourselves, we all contributed negatively to it, and no one really stepping up in a positive manner to fix or change it”. Sadly, nothing has changed thru the years, as it was the same again on this day. This time, there was no joint batting practice before the game. That means there was no fellowship before the game between the players of these two teams. Botbyl says, “what happened before our regular season game, that’s all on me, it was my decision, I am the coach, and I apparently set the wrong tone I guess”. Prior to the regular season game, Botbyl and several of his teammates got out of work early for the Memorial Day Holiday weekend, so they arrived at the field more than an hour before the game, set-up a pitching screen for safety, and practiced longer than usual for warm-ups. As Pompton Plains players arrived, each player did hit before that game, but almost all of their players chose to not take the field. Botbyl feels that, “for the playoff game, I figured, let them take the field first, they are the home team, technically they would provide bases and balls, and then I’ll be sure to go out on the field and join them”. However, Pompton Plains never took the field, so neither did ALRC. Several players from ALRC called the timeframe from 6pm to 6:30pm “awkward”. It was sort of like a stand-off and/or statement, which makes little sense for how two groups would want their respective teams perceived, and their church representation within the community. Neither team looks good in this scenario. Botbyl feels that “yet again, the founding fathers of our league from 50+ years ago, they probably look down on the situation with sadness, as we are failing to uphold the foundation of what the league was built on, and so the teams that continue to fuel these issues, I will continue to pray that we can come forward, forgive as Christians, and then proceed positively in a manner that would make everyone proud”.