There is a saying that all good things must come to an end at some point. Coach Scott Botbyl gets e-mails and texts all season long from various players and coaches throughout the season. One manager texted Botbyl after their 2nd round playoff loss stating “I’m not ready for the season to be over yet, the loss is tough to swallow for the whole team”. Botbyl could easily relate. ALRC entered this game searching for their 4th ever trip to the Final Four, but it would only be their 2nd Final Four in the past decade, since the Green&White got to the Final Four previously in 2005, 2006, and 2012. “I never want the season to end either, and I think that’s a big reason why when my team gets knocked out, I go watch all the playoff games, because I still want to feel like a part of it” Botbyl says. As for a team like Faith Hill, the numbers speak for themselves, ten championships and over 20+ consecutive years reaching the Final Four. Writing so many previews and recaps thru the years, Botbyl is often quoted as saying “the regular season and playoffs is to determine what 3 teams will make the Final Four, because Faith Hill is an automatic”. Coach Botbyl felt that, “what a great challenge in front of us today, perhaps we can make our own history, and be the team that prevents Faith Hill from making the Final Four for the first time in over two decades, someone is going to do it eventually, why not us”. Botbyl told his players “this is what we play all season for, this game today, so leave it all out there on the field”. Pastor Tom Larkin’s encouraging words throughout were “stay in the moment”.
In the top of the first inning, Dave DeWaalMalefyt started things off with a triple and then scored on an RBI single by Brett Fritzsch. Coach Scott Botbyl had teased several players on Faith Hill before the game, telling them “you are in trouble, I got a secret weapon, a positive omen for us, we have a good luck charm in the stands today” as Baby Fritzsch attended the entire game, she is EIGHT DAYS old! Brian Churco hit a single. Scott D’Alessandro capped off the inning with 2-RBI single scoring Fritzsch and Churco. ALRC had taken a quick 3-0 lead. Faith Hill got two hits in the bottom of the first inning, but they were unable to score, thanks to a great running catch in SF by Scott D’Alessandro.
ALRC had their best inning of the game in the top of the 2nd inning, scoring 6 runs! Joe Bosgra hit a lead-off solo HR. Matt Ferri singled, stole 2nd base, then scored on an RBI triple by Dave DeWaalMalefyt. Jason Young’s RBI single scored DeWaalMalefyt. Brett Fritzsch hit a single. Brian Churco’s RBI single scored Young. Scott D’Alessandro’s 2-RBI double scoring Fritzsch and Churco increased the ALRC lead to 9-0. In the bottom of the 2nd inning, Faith Hill was sent down in order 1-2-3, mainly thanks to impressive defensive plays by third basemen Brett Fritzsch.
In the top of the 3rd inning, Joe Bosgra and Dan Bosgra each hit singles, and Dave DeWaalMalefyt hit an RBI double to get things started. Jason Young’s 2-RBI single scoring Dan Bosgra and DeWaalMalefyt increased the ALRC lead to 12-0. Faith Hill got two hits in the bottom of the 3rd inning, but again was unable to score thanks to a great jumping catch in SF by Scott D’Alessandro.
ALRC players kept telling each other, “no lead is safe against these guys”, so the Green&White added 4 more runs in the top of the 4th inning. Brian Churco hit a lead-off single and Scott D’Alessandro followed with a double. Scott Botbyl’s RBI single scored Churco. Joe Bosgra’s RBI double scored D’Alessandro. Matt Ferri’s RBI sac fly scored Botbyl. Dan Bosgra’s RBI double scoring Joe Bosgra increased the ALRC lead to 16-0. Faith Hill finally got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the 4th inning. They could have scored more than one run, scary moment for ALRC on a flyout to right-centerfield as D’Alessandro and Bosgra almost collided as both were going after the ball at full speed. Coach Scott Botbyl said, “all ten of our guys today, they were playing with an intensity, a focus, they just simply weren’t going to be denied tonight, and I don’t think there are many times that Faith Hill faced a team where the opponent just wanted it more than them, but I think that was the case today”.
In the top of the 5th inning, the ALRC offense remained hot. Jason Young hit a lead-off single and then Brett Fritzsch followed with a double. Brian Churco’s 2-RBI double scored both Young and Fritzsch. Scott D’Alessandro hit a single. Scott Botbyl’s RBI sac fly scored Churco. Joe Bosgra hit a single. Mike Cohen’s RBI sac fly scored D’Alessandro, giving ALRC a 20-1 lead.
It’s not how you start a game, but how you finish. Back in 1996 when Scott Botbyl captained his high school team to a Passaic County Title, he was quoted in the Bergen Record Newspaper saying “winners finish strong”. That’s a big reason why Faith Hill has been so successful thru the past two decades. Same old story too when these two teams met in the regular season. Faith Hill scored 20 runs in the 2nd half of the game, cruising to an easy 23-10 victory over ALRC. In fact, Botbyl got some brilliant words of wisdom from a manager he’s always looked up to during his entire career, as the text Botbyl got before the game was, “play your game, they always rally late, they will have at least one big inning, stave off that rally and answer back”. That prediction became reality in the bottom of the 5th inning. Faith Hill certainly wasn’t going down without a fight, and they came back strong with a big 8-run inning. It was 20-9 ALRC, but the momentum seemed to be shifting. Matt Ferri pulled the team together and basically, very adamantly told his teammates to “punch back”. Most people probably felt that if ALRC stopped hitting, then another big inning by Faith Hill, which they are known for, and they would steal this game, like they have done so many times previously, as Ferri even also told his team that they just showed us why they are great, but we need to show them that we are better.
Dave DeWaalMalefyt hit a one-out double in the top of the 6th inning. Jason Young walked. With two outs, Brian Churco hit an RBI single scoring DeWaalMalefyt, but everyone knew that ALRC would need more than one run to put this game away. Scott D’Alessandro also hit a two-out single, which loaded the bases for Scott Botbyl. He had gotten e-mails from former lead Pastor Gene Poll in Alabama, wishing the team well, along with former teammate and Youth Group leader Craig Huizenga now out in New Hampshire, not to mention that Botbyl’s parents are retired in Missouri, and his sister lives in California, leading Botbyl before the game to joke with his teammates saying, “people all over the country are pulling for us to win today”. Perhaps God was smiling down upon him because there’s no other way to explain Botbyl’s Grand Slam HR. “I got to switch roles for today after 12 years and got to be like Coach Roger and feel like him, because he’s always been a winner, I’ve seen him deliver the big hit to win so many times, I’ve seen him lead by example, coming thru for his team in the clutch countless times while watching all their success, I would often to think to myself, Roger does it all the time, it would be nice if I could do that once, so I consider myself very blessed to finally have those prayers answered and enjoy a moment like that”.
Faith Hill got one hit in the bottom of the 6th inning, but they were held scoreless, this time a defensive play by Botbyl, fielding a ground ball hit back up the middle, which should have been a hit. Botbyl says, “again, just luck, good fortune, I wish I could say skill, but I should have just yelled, look what I found in my glove, as the ball was hit hard, it just happened to go into my mitt”. Both plays just seemed to show that fate was on the side of ALRC today. The Green&White have gone thru a lot together over the past 12 years, there were times it probably felt like a day like this might never happen, but all the commitment and dedication from all the guys thru the years, everyone was rewarded on this day.
In the top of the 7th inning, ALRC was sent down in order 1-2-3. Faith Hill got 3 hits to load the bases in the bottom of the 7th inning, but they were unable to score. ALRC gets the impressive victory 25-9.
Three players for ALRC had impressive 4 for 5 box scores (Dave DeWaalMalefyt, Jason Young, and Joe Bosgra), but there were two players that were a PERFECT 5 for 5, and they were:
Brian Churco – 4 singles, double, 5 Runs, 4 RBI’s
Scott D’Alessandro – 3 singles, 2 doubles, 3 Runs, 4 RBI’s
Botbyl says “great to see those five guys rewarded after all these years”. Brian Churco and Joe Bosgra have played all 12 years with Botbyl since he started the team in 2005. D’Alessandro joined the team in 2006. This is Jason Young’s 10th year on the team, and I don’t know how many years he played on Wyckoff Reformed. It’s Dave DeWaalMalefyt’s 9th year on the team, and I don’t know how many years he played on Covenant. That’s a long time playing for all these guys.
Coach Botbyl reminded his team though after the game, “we haven’t accomplished anything yet, our goal has always been to win a championship, so we still have a long way to go”. Botbyl did tell several Faith Hill players after the game during the post-game handshake “you guys are still the best”, maybe the best this 50 year old league will ever see, ten championships and 20+ straight Final Fours, highly unlikely the league will ever see that type of dominance again over the next half century either.
The Green & White now have a 9-14 record during the Play-offs. They are 4-2 in the first round. They improve to 4-6 in the second round. They are 1-6 in the Final Four.