FIRST ROUND: Midland Park over Sixers, Heritage over StPaul’s, and Restore over UnityTwo
SECOND ROUND: Faith Hill over Restore, Pompton Plains over Heritage, Midland Park over UnityOne, and Preakness over ALRC.
FINAL FOUR (double elimination): Preakness over Faith Hill, Pompton Plains over Midland Park. Preakness over Pompton Plains, which means Preakness advances to the Championship Game. Midland Park over Faith Hill, so Faith Hill is out. Midland Park over Pompton Plains, which means Pompton Plains is out and Midland Park now advances to the championship game. Preakness over Midland Park. Preakness is REPEAT Champions.
The best two playoff games were Heritage over St Paul’s in the first round and Midland Park over Faith Hill in the Final Four. It was so much fun to watch both these games with my two boys. When the League was founded, terms were used such as “glorify God on the field”, “fellowship with the local churches”, “show how Christians conduct themselves”, etc. It was all on full display in both these games. It was an honor to watch those players that took the field. Both felt like they could have been the championship. Coach Botbyl said, “for years I’ve looked up to guys like Coach Frank Spoelstra and Coach Roger Steiginga, I want my team to be successful like them, but also viewed positively throughout the league, just as I learned first hand during my early years on Unity when Ray Cornetto was the coach”. If you could add in Coach Al Henion too, then you are looking at the Perfect Core Four Coaches that truly represent the league for several decades. “Those four guys are living legends in my eyes, I admire them, and just hope to pass along to my team, my family, and my church, how inspirational they are”. And the best part about this 2015 season for me has been seeing young people follow their lead, guys on Heritage, guys on St Paul’s, guys on Restore, and guys on my team, they represent the future of our league, as hopefully the coaches and players of these four teams will be looked at by my two young sons and that younger generation just as I look upon those guys that lead the way now!
Based on the fact that the playoffs ended early, no rainouts, we still had permit usage for Lincoln School in Wyckoff. I just love to play so much that I tried to organize an “all-star game” and “skills competition”, but I think maybe it was too short of notice for people. Not all-stars though for skills and talent, as I have done in the past entering 11 tournament teams on the league’s behalf. Instead an all-star game for leaders of character and integrity, as I feel that is most important during this time of transition. It didn’t work out this year, but maybe next year. So, I put together two weeks of “pick-up games” instead. All coaches were contacted a few days in advance. With approximately 180 players in the league, I was able to find enough guys back-to-back weeks that just wanted to play for fun. It was a phenomenal environment for fellowship between the players from the different churches that participated each week!
The Atlantic Stewardship Bank Inter-Church Softball League has been around for a half century. The teams and players have changed throughout the generations, but the mission of the league had always been positive. It has a history of changing lives for the better. However, the way people have become in today’s society, it’s time for the league to make drastic changes if it wants to keep it’s mission clear and positive. The definition of “infiltrate” is as follows: to move into an organization secretly or unauthorized, and gradually, with hostile intent.
It’s no longer gossip or opinions or drama, it’s a fact, because just look at the sports world we live in today compared to that of the past. The message sent daily is “if you ain’t cheating, then you ain’t trying”. We see it at every level. In the pro’s, there’s not just steroid usage to hit HR’s, but Spygate or Deflategate, or pumping of fake crowd noise, or even referees paid off. In college, athletes are being paid, given cars, and not being held accountable for their actions/behavior because they fill stadiums and generate money for the university. In high school, parents have strategically held back their children to gain an advantage physically. And even in Little League, not only have I seen cheating by other coaches with my own two eyes these past two years coaching for Brandon, but even nationally. Fake birth certificates are made, district lines are not adhered too. Championship Little League teams are stripped of their titles, but what about those teams that lost to the cheaters. Sadly, it’s the “desire to win at all costs” mentality and it has now officially engulfed our once proud church league.
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
In the playoff preview, there was a lot written about “ringers”, “illegal bats”, not to mention “conduct and accountability in the league”. Coach Scott Botbyl talked about how it’s “awful, pathetic, and unfortunate” to see these things happening, he was confident he wouldn’t see it today, but “I was wrong again” he stated afterwards.
Preakness scored one run in the top of the 1st inning to take a 1-0 lead. ALRC answered right back with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first inning. Dave DeWaalMalefyt doubled and then scored on an RBI double by Brett Fritzsch. Jason Young’s RBI double scored Fritzsch to give ALRC a 2-1 lead after one inning.
In the top of the 2nd inning, Preakness only managed one hit and was held scoreless, thanks to two great catches made in LF by Dan Bosgra. ALRC scored one run in the bottom of the 2nd inning. Scott D’Alessandro doubled. Scott Botbyl hit a single. Joe Bosgra’s RBI single scoring D’Alessandro increased the ALRC lead to 3-1 after two innings.
Preakness scored two runs in the top of the 3rd inning to tie the game. The defending champs could have taken the lead, but Botbyl was able to record a strikeout looking. ALRC got the lead right back in the bottom of the 3rd inning. Brett Fritzsch hit a lead-off single. Brian Churco hit a double. Dan Bosgra’s RBI sac fly scored Fritzsch. Nick Schroeder’s RBI single scored Churco. Scott D’Alessandro singled before the inning ended. ALRC was leading 5-3 after three innings.
In the top of the 4th inning, Preakness took the lead back thanks to a 4-run inning. Trailing 7-5, ALRC was not able to score in the bottom of the 4th inning, as only Dave DeWaalMalefyt got a hit (single).
Then, the game changed in the top of the 5th inning. During their regular season game, when ALRC beat Preakness, Botbyl had “credited the church outreach committee and their magical hot dogs” since ALRC put forth probably one of their best efforts in team history, a 13-2 ALRC win. Coach Botbyl said, “I looked around and realized that we had the same 10 players that day as we did today, but that their team looked a lot different, as their players during pre-game batting practice were greeting each other as if they had not seen each other all year long, and not seen each other since their playoff run last year, and of course, my detailed stat book reflects different numbers for more than half”. The Preakness leadoff hitter laced a perfect line drive single. Botbyl said, “it sounded like an airplane going past me as I could hear the sound of air zooming past me”. The next batter hit a missile right back at Botbyl. Luckily for Botbyl, it happened to go right into his glove. Botbyl then threw easily to 1st base to complete a double play!! As fans applauded the play, Botbyl knew it was more luck than skill. Botbyl said “it was my glove hand and my left hand was throbbing, never experienced that before when I have caught line drives back up the middle, it took almost a week for the swelling to go down, thank goodness it didn’t hit me elsewhere, as I’ve been beat-up often thru the years”. Two outs and no one on base, but desperate times call for miraculous performances. 12 consecutive laser line drive rockets and not one of them went directly into an ALRC mitt. It meant an 11-run inning, all with 2 outs. Botbyl said, “the only other time a team hit more than 10 straight hits like that off me, with that same launching off the bat sound, was Pompton Plains”. A stunned ALRC was not able to score in the bottom of the 5th inning, as they only got singles from Jason Young and Dan Bosgra. It was now 18-5 Preakness after five innings.
In the top of the 6th inning, Preakness managed just one hit, but was unable to score. Scott Botbyl ignited an ALRC comeback bid in the bottom of the 6th inning, by blasting a lead-off triple. He scored on an RBI single by Joe Bosgra. Matt Ferri also singled. Dave DeWaalMalefyt’s RBI single scored Joe Bosgra. Brett Fritzsch hit a single. Jason Young’s RBI sac fly scored Ferri. Brian Churco’s 2-RBI double capped off the inning, as the 5-runs meant that ALRC now trailed 18-10 after six innings.
Preakness added two key insurance runs in the top of the 7th inning, to increase their lead to 20-10. ALRC then mounted a furious rally in the bottom of the 7th inning. Scott D’Alessandro and Scott Botbyl started things off with back-to-back singles. Joe Bosgra’s RBI single scored D’Alessandro. Matt Ferri’s single loaded the bases. Dave DeWaalMalefyt’s 2-RBI single scored both Botbyl and Joe Bosgra. Jason Young then blasted a 2-RBI triple scoring Ferri and DeWaalMalefyt. Dan Bosgra’s RBI single scored Young. Nick Schroeder then ripped an RBI triple scoring Dan Bosgra. Scott D’Alessandro’s RBI single scoring Schroeder capped off the 8-run inning. Defending Champion Preakness escaped with the win 20-18. The 8-run 7th inning was reminiscent of ALRC’s furious 7th inning rally against Pompton Plains in 2011. In that game, top seeded ALRC trailed 20-8 entering the bottom of the 7th inning. In that game, it was a 9-run bottom of the 7th inning rally that fell just short, losing 20-17. Something else both games had in common, the playoff games were just so different than the regular season. ALRC was slightly better in both, but the opposition went from scoring 2 runs and 3 runs in the regular season to scoring 20 runs. Just incredible improvement in a short period of time.
Bottomline, in both games for both teams, Botbyl says “I continue to pray they find strength, I pray they search for what God would want, and not what they want, because people often get consumed by their desire, what makes them happy, and in this case, it’s winning, fueling the ego as the driving force and greed for the glory, I pray that one person on these teams becomes strong enough to say NO … NO we will not bring in ringers, NO we will not use illegal bats, NO we will not conduct ourselves in this manner, and NO we will not justify it by telling ourselves and pretending that everyone else is doing it too, because everyone else is not, and I know that even if I wanted to, there are guys on my team that would stand up and tell me NO Scott, do not comprise integrity and character just to win the wrong way”.
Most importantly, just like stated in other games, luckily, no one got hurt. That’s all that matters right now as I search for ways to clean-up what the league has become. Prayer is the most powerful tool we have right now. Just keep praying. Considering it’s a church-league the best time is now to confess our sins, because we as Christians can show the greatest gift, forgiveness, as that is often an even bigger challenge.
No player for ALRC posted a perfect 1.000 batting average for the day. Each player had between 2 hits and 4 hits. The two players with four hits each were Dave DeWaalMalefyt and Scott D’Alessandro. Each and every player on ALRC ends the 2015 season with their heads held high, they continue to do things the right way, and that makes them champions in the eyes of those who founded the league many years ago.
One more lengthy update still to come ….. There’s an old saying that business leaders and executives use all the time “don’t come to me with problems unless you have solutions”. I do. I will announce them soon. I’d just rather see it come from others first.