Funk’s walkoff lifts OOTP 13U Prospects to Father’s Day title

By DN WRITING STAFF | June 17, 2024

By Sean Reilly

Lucas Funk is not only a talented baseball player, he’s also an honest one. 

So when Funk, the No. 3 batter in the Out Of The Park Cyclones 13U Prospects lineup, settled into the batter’s box with two out, two strikes, the bases loaded and his team trailing by a run in the bottom of the 10th inning on Sunday night, he admits to dealing with two different emotions — confidence, and also nerves. 

“I shortened up my swing and choked up on the bat,” he said. “I shortened up my approach so that I could get quicker to the ball and have more of a chance of hitting it. I also felt very nervous, because if I made an out, we would have lost the game. But I was also confident.” 

Funk wound up hitting a single to right-center field to score the tying and winning runs as the OOTP Cyclones 13U Prospects gained a thrilling 7-6 victory over the Northeast United/Grit 13U for the championship of the Diamond Nation 13U Father’s Day Classic. The drama-filled game took 2:42 to complete.

The Green Brook-based OOTP Cyclones 13U Prospects are now 33-1 in 2024, with the lone loss coming against a 14U opponent. They are 50-3 since moving up to 60-90 fields last fall. 

The championship was also the team’s fourth of the year at ‘The Nation,’ where they are 19-0 with a 188-19 run differential. 

Of those dozens of wins by the Cyclones, this one was arguably the toughest, and certainly the most dramatic.

The Cyclones never led until the game-winner from Funk, who was selected tournament MVP.

The Grit took a 1-0 lead on an RBI double by Alex Reyes with two out in the top of the first. It scored Luke Fazulak, who had singled. 

OOTP tied it on a two-out error in the second, when the first baseman and covering pitcher couldn’t sync up on a grounder, allowing Ethan Mecchi to reach and James Esposito to score. 

The Grit regained a 2-1 lead when Jason Sporer reached on a fielder’s choice that resulted in the second out in the seventh. His hustle negated a potential double play, and allowed Bryce Tesseyman to score. 

OOTP then forced extra innings when Dylan Boehm hit an RBI single with two out and two strikes in the last of the seventh. His at-bat began with a ball, before he fouled off four straight pitches. Ball two followed on a pitch that just missed, before the tying hit to center followed. It scored Cody Alicea, who led off with a full-count walk. The next two batters struck out, before Esposito walked on a full count. 

The game then went into the tiebreaker format in the eighth inning — which means each frame opens with the bases loaded and one out.

Lucas Funk of the OOTP Cyclones 13U Prospects was named the Father’s Day Classic MVP..

The Grit scored twice, after Nick Mandio led off by looping a two-run single into shallow right field. 

OOTP got a big break when Lucas Bolton led off the bottom of the eighth by hitting a potential double-play grounder that was instead misplayed, allowing two runs to score. 

OOTP couldn’t get the winning run across, so the game went into the ninth inning. 

The Grit went ahead, 5-4, on a leadoff walk to Reyes. The next two batters flew out to center fielder Esposito, who made a ranging catch for the third out. 

OOTP again tied it in the bottom of the ninth, with Nick Yacykewych leading off with a sacrifice fly to right field, before the inning ended on a pitcher-to-first ground out.

The Grit claimed a 6-5 lead in the top of the 10th, as Antoine Huet led off with a sacrifice fly to center field. With runners remaining on first and second, a double steal attempt resulted in OOTP catcher Dylan Pudlak throwing out the lead runner at third. 

The first OOTP batter in the bottom of the 10th struck out on a full count pitch. That put the outcome in the hands of Funk, who had been 2-for-3 to that point. 

He took a ball, swung and missed, and then fouled off two pitches before hitting the championship-winning single. 

“I came through,” he said. “It feels really good. I just shortened up the barrel and put it out there.” 

As for what’s made his team successful, he thinks it’s a combination of basically everything, including tenacity. 

“It feels like you’re on top of the world,” he said. “It’s been our defense, our hitting and our pitching.” 

The ending was disappointing, yet it was also an outstanding weekend for the Grit, who went 4-1, including a 19-0 win in the semifinals. It won one other game by shutout, and allowed one run in another. 

Especially notable was how its four pitchers in the final – Tesseyman, Reyes, Fazulak and Huet – combined to allow only seven hits while striking out 17 against the loaded Cyclones lineup.

Share With A Friend:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *