It was 6th seeded ALRC facing 11th seeded HeritageTwo. Winner gets to face 3rd seeded Faith Hill in the Second Round. It’s a Faith Hill team that has won 10 championships in the past two decades and has made the Final Four for about 20 consecutive years in a row since joining the league. Coach Scott Botbyl jokingly asked his 9-year old son Brandon, “do we even want to win this game and play those guys”. ALRC was looking to snap a 4-game post-season losing skid, as the Green&White entered this contest having not won a playoff game since 2012. HeritageTwo was seeking their first post-season victory, in their first ever playoff game. Ironically, the first regular season HeritageTwo victory was recorded against ALRC, a 10-8 extra innings win on June 3, 2016. A detailed recap of that game is available by clicking on “past events”, which is located under the Events tab.
In the top of the first inning, HeritageTwo scored one run. It could have been more, but the ALRC defense made two great plays. The first out was Botbyl fielding a hard groundball up the middle and the other was Dave DeWaalMalefyt fielding a groundball at SS, stepping on 2nd for an out, then firing to 1st to complete a double play!! Unfortunately for HeritageTwo, they didn’t have their manager for this game, congrats to him on his wedding/honeymoon. And it wasn’t just him either, as HeritageTwo faced another difficult task as well, they were missing several key players, including their normal starting pitcher. The ALRC bats took full advantage in the bottom of the first inning with their best inning of the game, scoring ELEVEN runs! Dan Bosgra started things off with a lead-off walk, stole 2nd and scored on Jason Young’s RBI double. Brett Fritzsch’s RBI single scored Young. Brian Churco hit a single. Scott D’Alessandro’s 2-RBI double scored Fritzsch and Churco. Joe Bosgra’s RBI single scored D’Alessandro. Mike Cohen’s RBI double scored Joe Bosgra. Matt Ferri singled and stole a base. Dan Bosgra walked to load the bases. Dave DeWaalMalefyt’s 2-RBI single scored Cohen and Ferri. Jason Young’s 2-RBI triple scored Dan Bosgra and DeWaalMalefyt. Brett Fritzsch’s RBI single scoring Young capped off the big inning, which gave ALRC a commanding 11-1 lead after one inning.
HeritageTwo was sent down in order 1-2-3 in the top of the 2nd inning. Again, Botbyl made another nice play on a ball hit back-up the middle. Botbyl jokes “its usually more luck than anything, the balls up the middle come so fast, there’s not much skill there, if not luck, then it’s just self-defense”. Botbyl then blasted a solo HR in the bottom of the 2nd inning. Joe Bosgra also singled and then later scored on an RBI single by Matt Ferri to give ALRC a 13-1 lead after two innings.
In the top of the 3rd inning, HeritageTwo got a 3-run HR on a bomb to CF off the bat of fill-in manager James Hook. Botbyl says, “he was 4 for 4, with 3 singles, HR, 3 Runs, SB, 5 RBI’s, he played several different positions in the field, and most importantly, made the right decisions as a manager”. In the preview, Botbyl focused on what Grace did back in 2008 when they were missing lots of guys, and how many teams have not taken that route thru the years, including last year. Botbyl told his team afterwards “very difficult to do what they did today, so I have enormous respect for them, particularly James Hook, because he could have easily brought in great softball players”. Botbyl even got a text from another manager in the league, saying “as long as they didn’t bring in ringers”. They didn’t. And they even came right out and told the League President what was going on with their roster, got him involved, so there didn’t have to be a forfeit, and they should be applauded by everyone for their actions. Absolutely tremendous leadership and character shown by HeritageTwo. Botbyl says, “I hope some of their players show up for the joint game I am organizing on Friday July 29th at Lincoln in Wyckoff, as I look forward to calling some of those players my teammates for one-day”.
ALRC added 5 more runs in the bottom of the 3rd inning. Dave DeWaalMalefyt and Jason Young each hit singles, and then both scored on a 2-RBI double by Brett Fritzsch. Brian Churco’s RBI single scored Fritzsch. Scott D’Alessandro hit a single. Joe Bosgra’s RBI double scored Churco. Matt Ferri’s RBI hit scored D’Alessandro to end the inning as ALRC was now leading 18-4 after three innings.
HeritageTwo had a couple hits in the top of the 4th inning, but were held scoreless. Yet again, Botbyl was making plays on the mound, this time flipping the ball to 3rd base for a force out to end the inning. ALRC then put the game away in the bottom of the 4th inning, scoring 6 more runs. Dave DeWaalMalefyt, Jason Young, and Brett Fritzsch all registered singles to load the bases. Brian Churco’s 2-RBI single scored DeWaalMalefyt and Young. Scott D’Alessandro’s RBI single scored Fritzsch. Scott Botbyl hit a single. Joe Bosgra’s RBI single scored Churco. Matt Ferri’s RBI sac fly scored D’Alessandro. Dan Bosgra’s RBI single scoring Botbyl capped off the inning, which gave ALRC a 24-4 lead after four innings.
In the top of the 5th inning, HeritageTwo scored 4 runs, highlighted by a big HR to left-centerfield. After the game, Hook told Botbyl “he was probably the best out of the guys we had to bring in today, but that’s because he used to play for HeritageOne”. Botbyl said, “Yeah, I know him well, he even used to play on Preakness Valley before that, back before they became a combo team”. Botbyl then joked, “if you two players both promise to hit more HR’s, you two can come play for my team on Wednesday, as we will need all the help we can get to compete with powerhouse Faith Hill, lol”. ALRC was held scoreless for the first time in the game in the bottom of the 5th inning. The Green&White left the bases loaded after getting singles from Brett Fritzsch, Brian Churco, and Scott D’Alessandro.
HeritageTwo almost batted around in the top of the 6th inning, scoring 4 runs for back-to-back innings. It was now 24-12. Mike Cohen walked, stole a base, then Matt Ferri hit a single, and both players scored a 2-RBI triple by Jason Young.
In the top of the 7th inning, HeritageTwo was sent down in order 1-2-3 to end the game. ALRC gets the victory 26-12.
ALRC gets their first playoff win in 4 years and now advances to face 10-time champion Faith Hill on Wednesday.
Many players hit well for ALRC, as 5 of the 10 starters only made one out each. However, there was only one player that posted a PEFECT box score and that was CF Matt Ferri, who went 4 for 4 (4 singles, 2 Runs, 3 RBI’s, and a SB). Coach Botbyl says, “either it was his week of vacation last week from his ten year wedding anniversary celebration or that many Ferri’s that live far away attended the game (father, brother, nephew, etc), but he looked motivated, refreshed, I’m happy for him that he played so well today”.
Botbyl said, “it’s going to take that type of team effort hitting, just to give us a chance to compete with Faith Hill”. Afterall, the Green&White’s worst regular season loss this year was against Faith Hill, losing 23-10.
The Green & White now have an 8-14 record during the Play-offs. They improve to 4-2 in the first round. They are 3-6 in the second round. They are 1-6 in the Final Four.