Edwardsville head baseball coach Tim Funkhouser, left, won his 600th career game on Saturday at Jerseyville against Jersey High School. (Photo by Brent Feeney)

JERSEYVILLE – In his high-school baseball coaching career, Tim Funkhouser has accomplished quite a bit of achievements.

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Funkhouser became head coach at Triad after playing shortstop for Edwardsville and coached the Knights for three years before stepping into the job that his dad, Bill, and Tom Pile held for many years.

And thanks to an 11-1, five-inning win over Jersey Saturday afternoon at Jerseyville's Ken Schell Field, Funkhouser made history, winning his 600th career game at just age 44, becoming the youngest coach in Illinois high school baseball history to reach that mark. Funkhouser has won 545 games as the Tigers' coach to go with 55 wins as coach of the Knights before taking the Edwardsville job.

“It's a good setting, a good environment,” Funkhouser said. “Each year, there's additions to our program that make it more beneficial and I was glad to be a part of it when my dad was coaching and then coach Pile continued to elevate the program and do the things with (former EHS athletic director) Dick Ford and community leaders with the (Edwardsville High athletic complex) and it took off from there.

“(It continued with) Dr. (Ed) Hightower (the former Edwardsville school superintendent) and the board of education to continue with community leaders supporting our program and giving us a great environment to work in. We talk about it with our guys all the time, but when you have a great environment like that and you put together hard-working coaches who care about the kids, and I have high expectations, and go to work with that and then combine with all the players we've had to work with and the abilities they already have coming in and their willingness to buy into the program – it's just a fun environment.”

“It's kind of bittersweet; you never like to lose, but when you lose to somebody who's won 600 games, well, you're one of 599 others that he's gotten,” joked Panther coach Darren Perdun about being on the losing end of win No. 600 for Funkhouser.

Reflecting on what had happened, Perdun said “congratulations to coach Funkhouser; he does a great job with his program and he'll continue carrying on the tradition down there. They do a great job and that's what everyone marks their program by is their program. If you can compete with them, you can compete with anybody.”

The Tigers didn't waste much time off the starting blocks; Collin Clayton and Cole Cimarolli both opened with a single and a walk, respectively, and Clayton came home on a Jake Garella RBI single before Joel Quirin doubled in Cimarolli and Garella to get the Tigers to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first. Tyler Stamer grounded to second to move Quirin to third before a sacrifice fly to left by Joe Wallace drove home Quirin for a fourth run. A pair of errors by the Edwardsville defense helped bring in Jacob Witt to cut the lead to 4-1 through an inning, but the Tigers quickly regained control.

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“They hit the ball hard a couple of times,” Perdun said. “We missed our locations, but give them credit where they hit the ball today. I didn't think we competed real well today on the offensive end, but that happens. Today was kind of a hitter's day and we didn't take real good advantage of it; that's kind of how baseball goes sometimes.

“We're having a pretty good season; we can't let one game affect our whole season. We've got a pretty big week coming up, we've got some (Mississippi Valley Conference) games left and getting ready for the (IHSA Class 3A) regionals. We feel like we can compete; we'll see what happens.”

Garella and Jordan Yenne limited the Panthers to two hits on the day, with Chace Tallman singling in the second and Collin Carey singling in the fourth. Tallman was erased when Quirin made a nice grab of a shot up the middle from Carey, stepped on the base and threw to first to finish the double play. “The play (Quirin) made up the middle was not an easy play,” Funkhouser said. “I just loved the intent (on the play); he showed great confidence, great intent and ability to execute it.”

Tyler Stamer highlighted Edwardsville's day with a two-out, three-run shot to left-center that scored Clayton and Quiriin ahead of him in the fourth; Kade Burns scored the Tigers' final run in the fifth when he hit a pinch-triple to open the inning and scored on a Will Messer sacrifice fly to right.

Stamer went 2-for-3 on the day with the homer, four RBIs and a run scored; Quirin was 2-for-2 with a double, two RBIs and two runs scored, Messer 1-for-2 with a double, RBI and run scored, Clayton 2-for-3 with two runs scored, Cimarolli two runs scored, Garella 2-for-3 with three RBIs and a run scored, Joe Wallace a RBI, Cole Hansel 1-for-2.

Garella got the win, tossing three innings while giving up no earned runs and a hit while striking out one; Yenne struck out three while conceding a hit. Zach Benware took the loss, going 4.1 innings and giving up 10 earned runs on 11 hits while striking out one. Nate Rohman finished up and fanned one.

The Tigers went to 26-5 on the year with the win; Edwardsville hosts Granite City in a Southwestern Conference game at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

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