Margaretville boys roll to pair of baseball wins
By Julia Green
Margaretville 9, South Kortright 3
After falling behind 3-0 in the fourth inning to the host Rams of South Kortright last Tuesday, a five-run sixth inning was enough to propel the visiting Blue Devils to a 9-3 nonleague win over the defending Class D champions.
“Since it was the first time we were on a field, I was very pleased, not just with winning,” said Head Coach Rick Funck. “I went over there with the intent of pitching a different guy each inning and nobody had thrown off a mound yet.”
Sophomore Ian Williams earned the win for Margaretville, tallying seven strikeouts and allowing only one hit and no runs after he took over in the fifth inning. Six different pitchers threw for the Blue Devils, including starter Patrick O’Connell, Brian Faulkner, Mitch Vankeuren, Cody Fronckowiak and Jon Fairbairn.
The game was a scoreless tie going into the fourth inning, when a costly error on a bunt allowed the South Kortright offense to find a spark, scoring three runs on three hits to take a 3-0 lead. The Margaretville offense found its footing somewhat in the fifth inning, when Faulkner reached base on an error and Grant Cure sent him home on a double to make it 3-1.
It was then that Williams took the mound, pitching to the third, fourth and fifth batters in the Kortright order and striking out two of the three.
“My intent was to come back out with another pitcher, but then we came up in the sixth inning and scored five runs,” Funck said.
It began when three Margaretville batters walked after the first one struck out; Fairbairn hit a sac fly followed by an O’Connell single. Faulkner then nailed an inside-the-park homer to right-center field to drive in two runs to give the Blue Devils a 6-3 lead.
“Ian was so dominant in the fifth inning, so I asked him if he wanted to throw another inning, and he went out and went 1, 2, 3 in the bottom of the sixth, striking out two of the three guys,” Funck said.
O’Connell widened the Blue Devils’ lead when he hit a two-run triple in the top of the seventh, and Funck allowed Williams to finish the game, striking out three of four guys to total seven strikeouts in the last three innings.
“Kortright put some balls in play, and it was our first time on the field and except for mishandling that bunt play, that was our only error,” Funck said, “so I was very pleased with the defense we played and very pleased with the pitchers. It took until the fifth inning to get a ball in play, but then in the last three innings our bats came alive, so it was a very satisfying win.”
Margaretville 13, Downsville 0
Junior starter Patrick O’Connell and senior reliever Brian Faulkner combined for a no-hitter against the host Eagles of Downsville on Thursday, as the Blue Devils posted a 13-0 win in their league opener. The game was originally scheduled to be a home game for Margaretville but was relocated due to field conditions.
O’Connell struck out five of six in the first two innings but a walked batter and a fielder’s choice put two runners on when the Eagles’ leadoff hitter came to the plate and hit a line drive to right field.
“I thought we were going to be in a little bit of trouble, but Mitch Vankeuren bailed us out with a caught line drive,” Funck said. VanKeuren snagged the ball and whipped it to first for a double-play.
The game remained scoreless going into the third inning, when the Blue Devils went on an 11-run scoring blitz as Fronckowiak, Fairbairn, O’Connell and Cure tallied four singles and Faulkner hit a double to fuel the Blue Devils to an 11-0 lead.
The Downsville offense mounted a strong retaliatory effort in the top of the fifth inning, loading the bases on two walks and an error, but O’Connell escaped the pinch by striking out the leadoff hitter.
Faulkner took over in the sixth inning after O’Connell reached the 80-pitch mark, striking out two of three in the sixth and getting three groundouts in the seventh.
“I didn’t realize it was a no-hitter until halfway home,” Funck said. “There were walks, a fielder’s choice, errors… there was no real drama. You take that third inning out and it was a 2-0 ball game, really.”
Margaretville’s lone error came on a ground ball to shortstop with two outs when the second baseman didn’t cover the base.
“I told the guys today, you can win any game with offense but you win championships with defense, and in two games we’ve only made two errors, so it’s really optimistic in terms of that,” Funck said. “Our pitching has been good so far, but I told the guys we’re going to see better pitching, so while we’ve got some hits, the guys need to be a little more aggressive and a little better with the bats than we’ve been in these first two games.”
The Blue Devils will travel to play the host Wildcats of Charlotte Valley on Friday.
The Roxbury Rockets were scheduled to open the season against the visiting JayHawks of Jefferson on Tuesday; no result was available at press time.