Funkstown set to host state tourney
Funkstown Post 211, co-champion of the Western Maryland District, will be on a quest for a seventh state title when it hosts the 2011 Maryland American Legion State Tournament, which begins Wednesday at Hagerstown's Municipal Stadium. From left to right are: Front row -- Front row - Coach Tom Allen, Tyeler Presgraves, Ty Benson, Aaron Stoner and Coach Doug Hornbecker; Middle row -- Nic Martin, Brian Lesher, Trevor Haupt, Brock Heiston, C.J. Owings, Ryan Sword, Brendon Colliflower and Manager Jeff Williams; Back row -- Coach Matt Smith, Ryne Willard, Aaron Jones, Jack Schwartz, Ben Bushong, Dylan Eyler, J.T. Root, Brad Spickler, Jake Bachtell and Coach Patrick Moore. (Submitted photo)
The 2011 Maryland American Legion State Tournament begins Wednesday and runs through Sunday, the first time since 2001 the event will be held locally.
Funkstown Post 211, the host for the event, will begin a quest for a seventh state title Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. against Wicomico Post 64, the South Eastern Shore champion.
First-round play begins at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday when Fort Cumberland Post 13, the Mountain District champion, meets Anne Arundel County champion Sandy Springs Post 68. At 12:30 p.m., Chaney Enterprise, the Frank Reilly League champ, meets Frederick Post 11, the co-champion with Funkstown in the Western Maryland District. The 4:30 p.m. game will pit Gaithersburg Post 295, the Montgomery County winner, against Northern Central champ Cecil Post 15.
The double-elimination tournament will continue through to the championship round on Sunday.
Funkstown won state titles in 1971, ’79, ’80, ’82, ’83 and most recently in 2005. Funkstown manager Jeff Williams played on the 1982 team.
Funkstown recently concluded the regular season with a 19-5 record, which could have been better if not for a four-game losing streak in the latter part of the campaign.
“We could have been better, but our defense let us down for a couple of games,” said coach Patrick Moore.
A difference in approach toward the game will be felt during the state tournament. During the season, teams played seven-inning games but will go the full nine in the tournament.
“We’ll try to extend the opposing pitchers and get their pitch count up and try to get to the bullpens and hope ours can keep us in the game,” said Moore.
Funkstown will try to improve on its fifth-place standing from last year’s tournament at College Park, Md., but the initial opposition will pose a tough task.
Moore said Wicomico boasts one of the top pitchers in the state, Zach Sterling of J.M. Bennett High School.
“He was MVP of the Brooks Robinson game, throws in the upper 80s and has a lot of movement on his ball,” said Moore. “(Wicomico) has a couple of other pitchers so they’ll be a tough opener.”
Funkstown has been led at the plate by North Hagerstown’s Jake Bachtell, hitting .444 with a pair of homers and a team-leading 32 hits.
“(Bachtell) has been our most consistent hitter,” said Moore. “He doesn’t strike out a lot and he has been there for us in clutch situations offensively.”
Ty Benson, also from North Hagerstown, is second on the team at .396 with 21 hits and a team-high 18 walks.
Moore said the pitching has been surprising.
“We thought it might be a weak point coming into the season, but they’ve done well,” he said.
North Hagestown’s J.T. Root is 4-1 with a 2.31 earned run average and Aaron Stoner, also from North, has turned it around on the mound from a subpar prep season to go 3-1 with a 3.55 ERA. Aaron Jones has been effective put of the bullpen, posting a 2-0 record with a save and a 1.66 ERA.