Deposit stops Devils in baseball sectionals

By Julia Green
“It was a game that could have gone either way,” said Margaretville Head Coach Rick Funck of his team’s 4-2 sectional loss at Deposit on Thursday. “They had three hits, we had three hits; their pitcher struck out 12 of our guys and Patrick [O’Connell] struck out nine of their guys. It comes down to the fact that they committed one error and we committed five. That was the story of the game.”
Those five errors proved to be the weak link for Margaretville, leading to an unearned run in the second inning and including back-to-back infield errors in the bottom of the fifth inning that gave Deposit what would turn out to be the winning run.
“Patrick should have been out of the inning long before those guys scored, because they were on base by errors,” Funck said.
The Blue Devils got off to a good start, holding the sixth-seeded Lumberjacks to one run in the first and second innings and then tallying two runs on back-to-back RBI singles by O’Connell and Brian Faulkner to take a 2-1 lead. The Blue Devils had the opportunity to do more damage that inning, with runners on second and third, but the fifth and sixth batters made outs to retire the side with a one-run lead.
It wasn’t a lead they held long, however, allowing the tying run to cross the plate in the bottom of the inning despite a solid execution by the Margaretville defense.
“We executed that play well,” Funck said. “Our shortstop looked the runner back at third, and then made the throw to first and as soon as it hit the first baseman’s glove, he threw it back to home. It was probably the best defensively executed play, but the guy at third just beat our throw.”
Margaretville showed some life in the sixth inning, with a batter making it to first on a walk and another reaching on an error, but the Blue Devils were unable to get the runners around.
“Their pitcher was in control all game long,” Funck said. “He was around the plate. He didn’t seem to have an overpowering curveball, but he had a pretty good pop on his pitch and we just couldn’t put enough balls in play against him.”
Margaretville pitcher Patrick O’Connell tallied nine strikeouts and walked none over six innings.
“We were exactly even in hits,” Funck said. “They just played better defense than we did.
“I was very proud of how the guys played against Deposit,” he added. “They went down there not knowing anything about Deposit at all, expecting to have a real tough game, and it was a game we could have won.”
The Blue Devils finish the 2009 season with a 7-8 overall record and will return 12 of 15 players, losing seniors Chris Costa, Guy Nobile and Jon Lee to graduation.
“There’s going to be a good nucleus coming back,” Funck said. “They’re going to have some good senior leadership – I’m kind of wondering who will stand up and be the leader of that team. Next year the Margaretville team should be the team to beat on our side of the league.” 
Funck, who will be retiring from teaching at the end of this school year, may also be leaving the MCS coaching ranks as well. On Monday, he was presented with Margaretville’s Distinguished Coaching Award, recognizing his 25 years at the helm of the Blue Devils’ baseball squad.
“With everything that happened tonight, I’m just overwhelmed,” he said afterward. “It’s just humbling. As long as I’ve been doing this, baseball is very near and dear to me here at Margaretville, and the thing I said to [Athletic Director] Jeremey Marks was, I wouldn’t leave the Margaretville baseball program hanging. Before somebody comes in to do it on a whim, this is too special a group of kids. They’re a great bunch of kids to work with, and I would not leave the baseball job at Margaretville in the hands of somebody who did not have baseball as near and dear to their heart as I did.
“If this were to turn out to be my last season, I could not have asked for a better group of guys to work with,” he added. “And if it doesn’t turn out to be my last season, it would be an honor to work with them again another year.”