RANDOLPH, NJ- The deciding game for the men’s master softball championship was played Thursday night at Brundage Park. Winner takes all games always have a certain amount of excitement leading up to it. With the first two games of the series living up to the hype, game three turned out to be rather one sided.
Morris Tap took game one on Tuesday, and NJ Bar took game two on Wednesday, to set the stage for game three. NJ Bar & Grill manager John Sweeney knew his team had it in them to respond after the game one loss, stating "We knew we didn't play our best to start the series. We have been in elimination games before, so we all knew we had to step it up, and play better to get the win in game two and keep the series going."
in game three, NJ Bar and Grill took control of the game early scoring in the first inning off a sacrifice fly. Then in the second, Tom Phillips hit a bomb, which sailed over the right fielders head and he easily touched all the bases for a home run. Chris Bruun added two more runs in the second with a double.
Morris Tap and Grill threatened in the third with runners in scoring position and no outs. However they were not able to capitalize as a double play ended the inning. In the bottom half of the inning NJ Bar & Grill's offense exploded. They scored nine runs including a three run homer from Tom Phillips, his second of the game. Two homers in a game is pretty impressive but nothing new to Phillips, as he explained "I have hit two in a game before, I think the most I hit in one game is four.”
Morris battled back and tried to chip away at the lead, Mike Reisch hit a three run homer in the top of the fourth making it 13-3. Unfortunately that was all the offense Morris could generate for the night. NJ kept the pressure on adding 5 more runs in the bottom of the fourth. Brain Docherty got the inning started with a two run triple as NJ Bar and Grill was able to end the game in five innings by a score of 18-3.
Morris Tap outfielder Leigh Bodner, who helped his team secure victory in game one by robbing NJ bar of two potential home runs, lamented the missed opportunity, stating "It was a great ride, we just couldn't find the magic tonight. We wished we could have put on a better show for all the fans who came out tonight."
After the game ended, tremendous sportsmanship was shown by both sides as the two teams shook hands at midfield. Although Morris Tap and Grill came up just short, the team held their heads high after a great year. Last year they finished with a 5-15 record, and turned that around to a 20-7 record this year. Coach Vince Basciano was very pleased with his team “We were definitely the most improved team this year, we knew these guys were going to be tough to beat. We gave it our all and fell just a game short. Overall, Jeff Volk ( co-coach ) and I are proud of the way we played this year.”
As for the champs, they followed Tim Novak’s bold strategy after the game one loss, “Get more hits, score more runs.” That’s exactly what they did and that is why they are crowned the 2014 Men’s Master Softball Champions. Everyone in their lineup contributed to the victory through solid defense and balanced hitting.
After the game Basciano gave NJ Bar props, stating "We congratulate NJ Bar and Grill, they are a great team and gave a great effort."
As for Sweeney, his team took the championship in 2007, 2009, and 2011, and now have added a fourth ring to thier fingers. He described the make up of his team, explaining "We added some key members this year, but the core group has been together since "07". This is a great feeling. Great pitching, hitting, and defense makes for a Championship season!"
Click here to see a highlight slide show of the championships: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3S1RehWEiI&feature=youtu.be