Errors sink MCS in baseball crossover
By Julia Green
As Margaretville Head Coach Rick Funck has been saying since the start of the season, his team’s successes and failures are heavily dependent upon how many errors the squad commits on a given day. Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, the number they committed in Thursday’s Delaware League title against Jefferson in Oneonta was too high to get away with.
“It was kind of a disappointing game in the sense that I felt like we beat ourselves with poor defense,” said Funck, whose team fell 9-5. “The guys that pitched, pitched well, but you can’t commit seven errors in a game with a team that’s even with you and expect to win that game.”
Margaretville put a run on the board in the first inning to take a 1-0 lead, but it was short-lived when the JayHawks tallied one in the second and another in the third to make it 2-1. The Blue Devils were still within striking distance, but a seven-run fourth inning by the JayHawks did more damage than they could counter.
A pop fly to right field was dropped and a hit batter put runners on first and second. A sac bunt advanced the runners, and a ground ball to Margaretville shortstop Cody Fronckowiak was fielded but the throw sailed over catcher Jon Fairbairn’s head to allow a run. Another grounder went to Fronckowiak, but the throw home was high for a second time, allowing a second run for a 4-1 JayHawks lead.
Jefferson first baseman Brockway came to the plate with runners on first and second, and after moving to a 3-1 count, connected with a fastball by Margaretville pitcher Patrick O’Connell and sent it sailing well over the left-field wall.
The three-run homer gave Jefferson a 9-1 lead and brought in Margaretville relief pitcher Brian Faulkner.
“Patrick could have been out of that fourth inning without giving up a run if we hadn’t committed four errors,” Funck said. “Brian came in and righted the ship – we played better defense after that, but unfortunately we dug too big a hole.”
Of the nine runs O’Connell gave up, Funck said, not a single one was an earned run. O’Connell tallied three strikeouts and gave up five hits, while Faulkner struck out four and allowed one hit.
Despite the offensive blitz in the top of the fourth, the Blue Devils kept the fight alive in the bottom of the inning, putting three runs on the board thanks to a two-run double by senior Mitch Vankeuren and RBIs by Fronckowiak and outfielder Brian Faulkner.
“We got down 9-1 and the guys didn’t give up,” Funck said. “They were right in it until the end.”
The Blue Devils earned a first-round bye in the Section IV Class D tournament, which begins play on Wednesday. They will host the winner of Wednesday’s match-up between Jefferson and Morris at 4:30 p.m. on Friday.
Funck said he’ll be emphasizing two key points in the practices between now and Friday.
“We have to have guys going into the field wanting the ball hit to them,” he said. “‘Play with confidence.’ The toughest time you have is coming back from a game where you haven’t played good defense. We’ve just got to go back to the basic drills we do: fly balls and ground balls, practicing hitting the cutoff men and getting the guys back in the right frame of mind that, ‘Hey, we got to the record we got to this year with good pitching and good defense.’ And we’ve got to put the ball in play a little more than we did; we got to the bottom of the fourth before we got our first hit.
“Hopefully the pitching will continue and we can play the defense we played earlier in the year, when we were making one or, at most, two errors,” he added. “The two big losses we had this year, we made seven errors at six, so you just can’t give decent teams extra outs. If you give them extra outs, you’re going to find it very hard to win.”