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Halfway there

Post 211 beats Mount Airy to win first half

Post 211 beats Mount Airy to win first half

July 08, 2004|by SALLY CLOPPER and ARLEEN SHUSTER

andrewm@herald-mail.com

FUNKSTOWN - As soaking wet as the driver's seat may have gotten, the Funkstown Post 211 baseball team is more than happy to be sitting in it after Wednesday night.

Funkstown jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning against Mount Airy Post 191 and then held onto the steering wheel for dear life, winning 4-2 in the one-game playoff for the Western Maryland District first-half championship. The game, scheduled for nine innings, was delayed twice by rain, totaling more than an hour of stoppage, before being stopped for good after seven innings due to darkness.

"This was a very, very big win," Funkstown manager Darryl Powell said. "In this league, you're never really in the driver's seat. But if we drop this game, we're behind the 8-ball. ... We got the first-half championship. Now we have to fight for the second half."

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Regardless of what happens in the second half of season, Funkstown (23-8-1) is guaranteed a postseason. If it doesn't win the second half, it will play the second-half winner in a best-of-3 series for a spot in the state tournament. If the second-half winner is Frederick, which will host the state tourney, both teams automatically have bracket spots.

All Funkstown pitcher Andy Taylor was worried about was holding the lead - and staying loose through the rain delays.

"It's pretty hard because you have to keep getting warmed up," said Taylor, who went the distance. "I walked a lot of people, but we got the outs when we needed them."

Taylor (3-1) gave up four hits, six walks, hit two batters and struck out five. But Mount Airy (19-19-1) never was able to fully capitalize, stranding 12 runners, including six in scoring position.

"It was frustrating," Mount Airy manager George Richardson said. "If we had a couple hits in key situations, it would be different. We played poorly early on, but ... they're kids. I see the Baltimore Orioles do it all the time."

Funkstown acted like the New York Yankees in the first-inning, four-run rally.

Drew Crawford led off with a single against Clay Gumphrey, Marty Kaetzel reached on an error and Nate Himes put Funkstown up 1-0 with a double to left-center.

Taylor walked to load the bases for Josh Bowers, who plated Kaetzel on a fielder's-choice grounder. Himes then made it 3-0, coming home from third on a double steal as Taylor took second. After Phil Powell singled and Kyle Robinson walked to reload the bases, Gumphrey hit Bryson Appel with a pitch to plate Taylor for the fourth run.

"That was all of them," said Himes, who went 2-for-3 with a walk.

They were just enough.

Following the first rain delay, Mount Airy cut its deficit to 4-1 in the fifth on Steven Rice's RBI fielder's choice, but stranded two runners. After the second delay, Mount Airy turned a hit batter, two errors and a walk into a run, but left the bases loaded.

Powell and Bowers each had two hits for Funkstown.

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