Devils keep winning on diamond; Rockets fall in close games
By Julia Green
In sports, it’s a matter of doing the little things right – even when it might not seem like it counts. That mentality is what makes champions, and it is without a doubt the mentality that has earned the Margaretville Blue Devil baseball team the No. 6 slot in the New York State rankings.
It was prominently on display during the sixth inning of the Blue Devils’ home game against the visiting Stamford Indians on Monday night. Despite a 12-0 lead in Margaretville’s favor, a foul tip off a Stamford bat headed toward the home team’s bench and appeared to be out of the reach of MCS catcher Jon Fairbairn.
Key words being “appeared to be.”
Fairbairn leapt for the ball, laying out in a full extension as he snagged the ball in the pocket of his glove.
“It was a great play, great hustle,” said Jeremey Marks, who was filling in for MCS Head Coach Rick Funck. “He really laid out for it.”
That defensive play was a key highlight in Margaretville’s 16-0 win over the Indians, in which starting pitcher Brian Faulkner had a no-hitter going until the sixth inning, when he gave up two hits. Faulkner tallied 10 strikeouts and gave up only one walk.
“Right from the beginning, you could tell Brian had command of his fastball,” Marks said. “It was a good sign when he struck out the first guy on three pitches. I thought he located his fastball well and had good command with his off-speed pitches.”
Marks added that Fairbairn did a nice job behind the plate, and that the Blue Devil defense, which committed only two errors, played well behind Faulkner.
A scoreless game going into the bottom of the third inning, the Blue Devils cracked it open in the third, scoring seven runs on one hit. Mitch Vankeuren drew a walk and Cody Fronckowiak followed with a double; four consecutive batters walked and all four scored on wild pitches.
“That kind of broke the game open,” Marks said.
The Margaretville offense continued its assault in the fourth inning, earning six runs on five hits and a walk.
Fronckowiak tallied two RBIs and Fairbairn went 2-for-3 with two runs scored.
“Overall, it was a good day,” Marks said. “We were aggressive on the base paths, and we put pressure on them to make some plays because when guys got on, we were aggressive in stealing some bases.”
The Blue Devils, who are currently 7-0, will travel to face the host Wildcats of Charlotte Valley on Wednesday.
The Roxbury Rockets had a tough week, losing two games by just one run each.
“It’s been just some tough luck here,” said Roxbury Head Coach Greg Funck. “We’ve been competitive, and we’ve been in every game so far; we’re just having trouble coming out with a win.”
The Rockets fell to the host South Kortright Rams 9-8 on Monday night, despite holding a 7-1 lead going into the bottom of the fifth inning.
The Roxbury offense was sparked in the second inning by Danny Bird, who connected for a there-run double to put the Rockets on the board. Roxbury continued to put pressure on the host Rams, adding a run in the third and three more in the fourth to make it 7-1, but the Rams offense came alive in the bottom of the fifth, tallying five runs to make it 7-6.
“We had one bad inning,” Funck said. “In the fifth inning they strung a couple of hits together and were right back in it, and then they just came alive and were hitting late in the game and came out on top.”
Bird went 2-for-3 for the Rockets with four RBIs and David Clark went 2-for-4 for Roxbury.
Funck said that his team felt “pretty confident” in their early lead, but that a big momentum shift came in the top of the fifth inning, when Roxbury reliever Dylan Cole came out and got three batters in three outs to retire the side. South Kortright then proceeded to tally five runs.
The Rockets continued to battle in the bottom of the seventh, when they found themselves down 8-6. Jacob Liberatore drew a walk and then stole second and third and scored on a single up the middle by Clark to bring the Rockets within one. It looked like they would be able to tie it up, with runners at the corners, but a groundout to second base ended the game.
“We were in there, it was a competitive battle and we hit the ball, they just came out on top,” Funck said.
It was a similar situation on Friday, when the Rockets fell to Hunter 6-5.
“That was another neck-and-neck game,” Funck said. “We were battling back and forth the whole game.”
The Rockets were led on the mound by David Clark and reliever Kyle Ciaravino, who took over in the fourth inning.
Dakota Caronia went 2-for-3 with two RBIs.
“It was a carbon copy of [Monday],” Funck said. “It was a tie going into the sixth and they got a couple of runners on and a clutch single up the middle that scored two runs to put them up 6-5.”
“It was just some tough luck,” he said. “We’ve been in pretty much every game and had a chance to win every game. Our record does not reflect where we should be. We’re 2-5 and we should be 5-2; there have just been too many close ones.
“Our young guys have really stepped up to the plate,” he added. “They’re playing well in the field and are hitting the cover off the ball and are really a pleasure to have. Their attitudes are great.”