Unionville, Kennett meet in emotional home opener

Normally fierce rivals, teams both don pink to honor player’s late mother

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times

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Unionville’s Tucker Reese throws out the first ball as his dad looks on. Both the Indians and Kennett wore pink-accented uniforms in honor of Cathy Reese, Tucker’s mom, who passed away last summer as the KAU Knights — made up of players from both teams — made it historic run to the Senior League World Series. Monday, both teams gathered in a pre-game ceremony in her memory.

EAST MARLBOROUGH — On paper, they should be the fiercest of rivals; neighboring schools with strong baseball programs.

But Monday, the Unionville and Kennett high school baseball teams were brothers, sharing both the extreme sorrow of one of their own losing a parent, and celebrating the joy of coming within one win of winning the Senior World Series in 2013.

The Indians (1-1) held off the Blue Demons, 13-7, to win their Ches Mont opener,     but a frigid Monday was more than just a home opener.

Both the home Indians and visiting Blue Demons wore pink or pink accented jerseys in the game, in honor of the late Cathy Reese, mom of Unionville’s Tucker Reese.

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The Unionville High School baseball team lines up prior to Monday’s game, during pre-game ceremonies.

As the KAU Senior team — made up of players from both schools — was storming through the playoffs last summer, Cathy Reese was valiantly fighting a losing battle against cancer. Unable to speak, as the illness was taking her life, she wrote a short message for her son, to encourage him to continue with his teammates on their historic drive.

“Play ball,” she wrote.

And Reese and his teammates did just that, coming within a hair’s breath of winning a world championship.

And play ball they did again Monday — after Tucker and his dad threw out the first pitch in memory of Cathy Reese. Rivals, to be sure, but as young men with a deep and lasting bond.

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Kennett’s Joe Zirolli follows the ball, after pulling a ball foul against Unionville, Monday.

As powerful as the emotions of the day were, the weather kept the contest from being a textbook example of baseball. With the win whipping and temperatures in the mid-30s, it was touch for pitchers to find grip — and the strike zone — and virtually every ball hit to the outfield was an adventure.

Reese took the ball and battled through the first two innings for the Indians on the mound, and came away with the win. Joe Pannell took the start for the Blue Demons.

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Tags: baseball, KAU Knights, kennett, unionville

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