JEROMESVILLE — Hilldale’s prolific offense was largely silenced over the weekend, but Briar Funk twice kept the Falcons’ championship hopes alive.
The final Richland Bank Athlete of the Week for the 2018-19 school year, Funk accounted for both of Hillsdale’s runs in Akron over the weekend. He singled and scored the only run in a 1-0 win over Minster in the Division IV state semifinals on Friday and drove in Hillsdale’s lone run in a 3-1 loss to Toronto in the championship game.
Hilldale’s clean-up hitter was a combined 2-for-6 with an RBI and a run scored as the Falcons finished as state runners-up.
Hillsdale may never have reached Sunday’s championship game were it not for Funk’s heroics on Friday. The junior lined a 1-0 pitch from Minter’s Austin Brown into left field for a base hit to start the second inning. He advanced to second on Ty Williams’ walk and both runners moved up on Garrett Crites’ sacrifice bunt before Evan Rottman lifted a sacrifice fly to center to plate Funk.
“That was really a key inning,” Funk said Friday. “I knew I had to do work out there and get us a hit and that ended up being our only score.
“I’m just overwhelmed at how excited I am.”
Rottman was quick to credit his classmate.
“Briar came up with a big hit to get us going and Garrett got the sacrifice bunt down,” Rottman said. “I was trying to square something up but the fly ball got the job done.”
Hillsdale’s championship hopes took a hit when No. 2 pitcher Garrett Goodwin injured his ankle after Friday’s game, but Goodwin battled his way through seven innings in the title game against Toronto.
He gave up two runs in the third, which looked like more than enough for Toronto ace Nate. Karaffa. The Ohio State signee struck out eight of the first nine men he faced and retired 11 in a row to start the game before giving up a fourth-inning single to Jay Luikart.
Hillsdale finally got to Karaffa in the sixth. Carsten Betson was hit by a pitch before Funk smoked a 1-2 pitch into the left field corner, allowing Betson to score all the way from first.
It was Funk’s 47th RBI and ninth double of the season.
“We gave ourselves a chance,” Hillsdale coach Jason Snow said. “Briar had a great at-bat and we got it to 2-1.”
Hillsdale finished the season 28-4. The Falcons will lose Luikart (Wright State), Goodwin (Shawnee State), Crites and Garrett Smith, but will return six starters.
“I’m so proud of all my teammates,” Luikart said. “I couldn’t be more thankful for all the time and hard work they put in.”