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Rested Funkstown set for workload at state tourney

July 29, 2004|by MARK KELLER

keller@herald-mail.com

Funkstown Post 211 baseball coach Darryl Powell is hoping a little rest and relaxation will do his team some good.

Funkstown opens play in the Maryland State Legion Baseball Tournament at McCurdy Field in Frederick on Friday, more than one week since it played its last game.

Given the way the season went for the team, Powell said he thinks the layoff is to their benefit.

"With this team, I think it helps us," Powell said. "With the schedule we played this year, playing four or five times a week, they were beat three-quarters of the way through the season. This gives them a chance to get their legs back under them and get some rest.

"I guess we'll find out Friday if it was a good thing or not."

Even with a group of tired players, Post 211 managed an excellent season, going 32-11 and winning both halves of the Western Maryland District campaign to qualify for the state tournament.

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Still, Powell said his sights were set higher during the regular season.

"Don't get me wrong, 32-11 is a great record," Powell said. "I think I just expected more is all. We had so many injuries, especially with two pitchers out of the lineup. That really hurt us."

Those two pitchers - Cole Bellon and Jeff Mills - were guys who Powell tabbed as the front line of his starting rotation. But Bellon has missed six weeks with elbow problems and Mills went down with a broken arm, forcing other players to enter the fold.

Andy Taylor rejoined the team early in the season and won five games, while Josh Bowers - originally the team's No. 3 starter - was bumped up in the rotation. The pair quickly became Funkstown's top two pitchers.

Powell also turned to some more unlikely prospects: Kyle Robinson, Tim Kellinger and Trevor Cobb. Powell said all delivered when needed.

"Kyle threw some big games. He hadn't pitched since PONY League," Powell said. "Josh Bussard took on the closing role, and on and on and on. We had to go with some guys that we normally wouldn't have asked to pitch and they all stepped up."

Powell said that one positive side effect of his "call to arms" was the strengthening of the team's chemistry.

"For those kids to step into roles that they're not accustomed to, not only does it show their commitment to the team but it shows the depth of talent that we have," Powell said.

Powell said Post 211 will need every bit of that talent to be successful in the state tournament. Funkstown plays defending champion Gaithersburg in the opening round Friday at 4 p.m.

"We saw them in the New York tournament this year. They're strong. They usually are," Powell said. "Once you get to this point, there's not a weak team here. Everybody has earned their way here."

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