Overcome tough loss to Aston Valley, team wins tough pair to grab District 9 three-peat
By Brian Ladd, Special to UnionvilleTimes.com
“Three-peat” is a rare term used in professional sports when a team wins three championships. Three-peat is a term that has never been uttered in URA baseball lore, until now.
After demolishing Chichester and BYC by a combined score of 22-2, Unionville ran up against the up and comers from Aston Valley with an opportunity to be in the tournament driver’s seat with a semi-final victory. Win and you head to the Championship undefeated and make someone beat you twice for the District Title. A feat that is not impossible, but is extremely difficult. Unionville had been here before. Opponent Aston Valley had not, but it was Aston who played flawlessly and capitalized on a few Unionville miscues sending Unionville to the loser’s bracket with a 3-0 victory. The players left the field stunned and one wondered how they would react having to claw their way back to reach the title game.
Faced with the unenviable task of falling to the losers bracket, the seasoned URA 10U’s had to face their perennial nemesis BYC on Tuesday night with the winner heading back to the Championship Wednesday night against Aston Valley . To make matters worse, the winner would have to defeat Aston Valley twice – and win 3 games in 3 successive nights. Shortstop and Pitcher extraordinaire Stevie DeNucci faced the team prior to the Tuesday game and said “Win and we’re in.” Following young DeNucci’s cue, Unionville disposed of BYC by a score of 8-2 and headed back to the Championship to face Aston Valley once again, the team that saddled them with their only defeat.
Prior to the game, the coaching staff reminded the team they still had to take one game at a time, but it was what assistant coach Kevin Opdahl said in the pre-game huddle that struck a chord with the team– “Let’s not just win this game, let’s send them a message. ” With that, Unionville looked like the team that made the run to the Mid Atlantic Regional Championship game just a short time ago – and they left Aston shaking their heads to a tune of a 13-1 drubbing, setting up the “Instant Classic” that transpired last night.
With the stage set for a “win and you are the District 9 Champion” opportunity, both Aston Valley and Unionville gave the fans a game they would never forget. Back and forth highlight film fielding and phenomenal pitching, neither team would bend. Strapping the Unionville team to his back, Stevie DeNucci took the hill for all 6 innings, holding Aston Valley at bay as Unionville clung to a 2-1 lead into the last inning.
With Aston Valley runners on 2nd and 3rd with no one out, the Unionville moms are in need of manicures today as fingernails were in every mouth with every pitch. DeNucci mopped the beads of sweat from her head (yes HER head, we’re talking about Stevie’s Mom Jeanne perched in her familiar spot in the stands) as Stevie looked over, flashed her a quick smile and a wink from the hill. In true “Shutdown Stevie” fashion, he got his mojo back and set the Aston Valley team down 1-2-3 with the tying and winning runs just 90 feet away for their 3rd District Championship – a feat never accomplished in Unionville Rec baseball history.
In his post-game news conference, Head Coach Steve DeNucci said “we always talk to the boys about how much harder this game gets to win as they get older. This by far has been the most challenging year for this group entering district play. But yet again, these kids just know how to win and they did just that.”
Unionville now moves on to the State Championships in Warrington PA. Based on their display of sportsmanship and excellent play, Aston Valley’s ticket to the State Championships was also punched as they were granted a wild card berth, so both teams were rewarded for their fine efforts.
Congratulations 10U’s – 3 time District 9 Champions!
Team Members include: Ryan Baker, Sam Biddle, Stevie DeNucci, Connor Gilden, Ricky Hart, Jake Hornibrook, Brandon Mawn, Jack Opdahl, Alex Pelegrin, DJ Scott, Joe Zubillaga