Margaretville boys fall to Hancock in Junior Legion baseball championship

By Julia Green
The Margaretville American Legion Post 216 baseball team dropped a tough 23-4 loss to Hancock in the championship game of the 2010 Delaware County American Junior Legion Baseball League in Walton last Thursday. Margaretville advanced to the championship game after posting a 5-0 win over Bainbridge in the semifinal last Monday.
The Margaretville boys were unable to bounce back from an 11-run opening inning posted by Hancock.
“It was very difficult to come back from an 11-run first inning,” said Margaretville Head Coach Rick Funck, who added that those 11 runs came from just one hit. Seventeen Hancock batters came to the plate during the first inning, and two errors, seven walks and three hit batters enabled them to continue to put runs on the board.
Funck added that, were it not for a couple of errors and a questionable call along the third baseline, the Margaretville boys could have escaped the inning with only one run on the board. After the first two batters reached base with a hit and a walk, Margaretville’s starting pitcher Ian Williams earned a strikeout for the first out. The next batter reached on an infield error, and the following batter hit a ball right back at Williams, who advanced toward a base runner who had left third base for home.
“We got this guy in a pickle, and in the ensuing throwing the ball back and forth, the runner turned and bumped into one of our guys,” Funck said. “There was contact and the umpire called obstruction. I personally felt it was incidental contact, and we did not impede the guy at all, but in their mind it was obstruction and so the inning continued. So, instead of two outs, we have only one out and they’ve got runners on. So in my mind, if we hadn’t committed the infield error, that could have been the third out and they would have only had one run.”
A 10-run scoring binge ensued, fueled by two hit batters, two walks and another fielding error.
“It was just a bad start,” Funck said. “They sent 17 guys to the plate and scored 11 runs on one hit. We had seven walks, three hit by pitches and two errors in the first inning.”
Margaretville committed two more errors in the second inning and allowed one more run before finding its offensive spark in the third inning.
Cooper Reither led off the third inning with a walk, followed by a groundout; Patrick O’Connell then connected for a single and Jon Fairbairn reached on an error. Margaretville earned another walk, and scored on a groundout, and then Williams connected for an RBI single.
“We showed a little bit of life,” said Funck. “It was 12-4. If we hadn’t had such a horrendous first inning, theoretically it could have been a 5-4 ball game in the middle of the third inning.”
Kyle Short, who entered the game in relief in the first inning, pitched into the third, when Hancock put up six more runs to make it 18-4.
“If the game wasn’t over after the first, it was definitely over after the third inning,” Funck said. “They batted around again.”
Starter Ian Williams took the loss for Legion Post 216.
Despite a tough final game, Funck said he is pleased by his team’s season as a whole.
“I told the kids at the beginning of the season when the schedule came out and we saw that everybody was going to make the playoffs, I wanted to get some guys to pitch who haven’t pitched a lot,” he said. “Some of these guys are going to have to step up and pitch some innings next year for Margaretville’s varsity team, and I think the experience they got this summer on the mound is invaluable.”
Also valuable in Funck’s opinion is the experience many players earned at other positions, as well as the game experience afforded younger players.
“All the seventh-graders, the experience they got was invaluable, especially against kids much bigger than them, and they held their own at the plate,” he said. “I hope it helps them, because they saw some pitching this summer that goes above and beyond what they saw in modified last spring, so that’s got to help them as well.
“It was a very encouraging summer,” he said. “I was very satisfied.”