Blue Devils win battle of baseball unbeatens

By Julia Green
The Margaretville boys kept the ball rolling last week, as they jumped two places to the No. 4 spot in state rankings and posted a 5-1 win over Davenport, the only other undefeated team in the division, on Wednesday. With the win, the Blue Devils moved to 5-0 in league play and 6-0 overall and earned sole possession of the No. 1 spot in the Upper Delaware Division – a status that would be cemented by a victory over Hunter-Tannersville on Tuesday.
“We were both undefeated in the league going in, so it was obviously our biggest game of the year,” said Margaretville Head Coach Rick Funck.
Blue Devil ace Patrick O’Connell tallied 14 strikeouts in Wednesday’s outing, relying on a combination of fastballs and knuckleballs and avoiding his curve ball altogether.
“I’ve never seen that pitch be that effective for him as in that game,” said Funck of O’Connell’s knuckle ball. “He had a great off-speed pitch with great movement, and I’ve got to tip my hat to [catcher] Jon [Fairbairn] for being able to catch the ball because it had a lot of movement in that game. That was Patrick’s best performance of the year.”
That Margaretville offense was led by Fairbairn, who went 3-for-4, and Cody Fronckowiak, who had two hits. Fairbairn and Fronckowiak combined for four of Margaretville’s five runs.
The Blue Devils struck early, putting two runs on the board in the first inning. Davenport scored one run in the bottom of the second, but Margaretville extended its lead with two more runs in the third to make it 4-1.
“I told the guys that in what had the makings to be a close game, whatever team hopped out early would be a great advantage,” Funck said, “and we did score two primarily because of some shady defense on their part.”
Four errors by Davenport in the first three innings led to all four of Margaretville’s runs.
The Blue Devils continued their streak on Friday, when they posted a 14-6 nonleague win over the host Roxbury Rockets.
O’Connell went 3-for-4 with a triple and four runs scored and Fairbairn went 3-for-5 with three RBIs and three runs scored to lead the Blue Devils.
“They were by far the hitting stars of the game,” Funck said.
Ian Williams earned the win for Margaretville in three innings, tallying four strikeouts.
“Ian didn’t really have his control in that game,” Funck said. “He threw 68 pitches in three innings and gave up four runs, and he would be the first to admit that it wasn’t one of his better outings.”
Senior Brian Faulkner came in as a reliever in the bottom of the fourth and earned five strikeouts.
“They did score a couple of earned runs in the sixth inning, but he came in and kind of settled things down,” Funck said. “We only made one error behind Brian.”
The Rockets were led by Garrett Hall, who went 2-for-4 with three RBIs, and Jacob Liberatore, who connected for a two-run homerun for Roxbury.
The Blue Devils suffered their first loss of the season in a nonleague game against visiting Onteora on Saturday.
“Although the score was 7-0, it easily could have been a 1-0 ball game without the errors,” said Funck, whose team gave up only one earned run. “Onteora put the ball in play and although we did commit four errors that led to six runs, we made some good defensive plays as well.”
Fronckowiak started on the mound and pitched four innings for the Blue Devils, who also got an inning from O’Connell and two from Fairbairn.
“The guys that got up two or three times, they had two or three at-bats against quality pitching, and I’ve got to hope that pays dividends as we play Hunter, Roxbury and Windham in three league games this week,” Funck said.
The Blue Devils were scheduled to play Hunter-Tannersville away on Tuesday; no score was available at press time. They will play Roxbury at home on Thursday and will host the Windham Warriors on Friday in the final league game of the regular season.