RANDOLPH, NJ - Morris Tap & Grill, led by great defense and timely hitting, defeated NJ Bar & Grill in game one of a best of three series last night in the Randolph men’s softball Masters Blue Division championship on Tuesday night.
NJ Bar & Grill, considered the favorite due to its powerful hitting skills, is the top seed. Morris Tap & Grill, seeded seventh. will get a chance on Wednesday night to force a game three on Thursday night.
Tap & Grill landed themselves in this finals due in part to the heroics of a fill in pitcher in the Semi Finals. Mark Schachter, a utility player who often mans second base, returned for the Semi's after a month on IR and filled in on the mound in the absence of the teams regular pitchers. Schachter reached back to his days as a 10-year-old in the Livingston Little League, and pitched the games of his life to help his team advance.
Both teams got off to a hot start scoring runs but Morris Tap & Grill led 7-5 after three innings. Morris Tap & Grill’s co-captain, Jeff Volk broke open the lead a little more in the fourth when he ripped a timely RBI base-hit. In the bottom of the fourth, Leigh Bodnar came up with two spectacular diving catches in a row in right-center field for Morris Tap & Grill that saved what could have been two momentum changing homeruns for NJ Bar & Grill.
“It feels real good to get the first win, but we still have a lot of work to do,” said Bodnar after the game.
Morris Tap & Grill played off big momentum building plays such as Bodnar’s fielding all game. In the bottom of the 5th inning, Mike Reisch came up with a huge unassisted double play when he caught a hard hit line drive at third base and used his awareness to throw it to first to catch a runner that thought the line drive would get to the outfield. Reisch also had a couple of key hits and RBI’s during the game.
NJ Bar & Grill scattered hits throughout the lineup the whole game, but was unable to find a timely hit that really changed the dynamic of the game. Tim Novak, who has played in the league for about ten years, kept his head up after the game despite the loss. “We just need to hit the ball some more and score some more runs,” said Novak.
Another factor that helped Morris Tap & Grill build momentum was the cheering section of about a dozen fans that had fun cheering and chanting between innings for their team. The rowdy crowd certainly inspired their team to have some more fun and make some more big plays.
Going into the bottom of the 7th, Morris Tap & Grill were leading 10-5, but NJ Bar & Grill finally put together some timely hits and ended up with no outs and a runner on second base after scoring twice in the inning already. With just a 10-7 lead, Larry Sotsky, pitcher for for Morris Tap & Grill painted the corners and struck out two straight batters to help seal a 10-8 victory in game one for his team.
Ray Meyers, a twelve year veteran and two time league champion was proud of his teams efforts against a strong opponent, stating "NJ Bar and Grill is a great team and they had a great season, so we knew we would have to play our best to win. I am looking forward to another good, fun game with these guys on Wednesday."
Even though the championship is very important to the guys playing, they can all agree that the fun and bonding is the most important thing that comes out of this softball league. Volk, who has been in the league for nearly a decade said, “It’s awesome being part of a team with a great bunch of guys just playing some ball and having fun.”
Game 2 is Wednesday night, July 30 at Brundage Park at 8:15