The Unionville High School baseball team had plenty of reason to come out swinging against Kennett last Friday afternoon. Besides facing the archrival Blue Demons, who swept a pair of meetings from them a year ago, Unionville was in desperate need of a Ches Mont League victory.With its backs up against the wall at just 1-4 through its first five league games, Unionville knew it couldn't afford to fall any further behind first place Great Valley (5-1) in the race for the American Division title even though its was still early in the season.
And playing like a team that realized exactly what was on the line, Unionville put together a strong all-around effort to squeeze past Kennett by a score of 4-3 in a hard-fought battle at Unionville High School.
"I was very pleased with how we played today," said Unionville head coach George DeDonato. "We'd been struggling a bit, and needed a win to get ourselves back in the picture."
Unionville (3-4 overall, 2-4 Ches-Mont) received strong starting pitching from right-hander George Caswell. Caswell came within one out of a complete game victory, as he pitched six-and-two-thirds innings. He allowed just three runs while scattering nine hits, and struck out seven along the way. Caswell held Kennett scoreless until the Blue Demons punched two runs across in the top of the fifth inning to cut Unionville's lead to 3-2.
"I felt really comfortable out there," said Caswell. "I was throwing strikes and getting ahead of guys, and my fielders did a great job of backing me up.
"I got a little frustrated when they cut it to one-run but I just kept pitching and helped finish the game off."
Caswell got some assistance from junior left fielder Dan Wing. After Kennett came within 3-2 with two runs in the top of the fifth, Wing helped Unionville regain some breathing room with a solo homerun over the left-center field fence in the bottom of the fifth. Wing then came in to pitch in the top of the seventh, closing the game out after getting Kennett to pop-out with two outs and the tying run at first base.
Kennett had swept Unionville last season, including a 17-1 thrashing the previous time they had met.
"It's a rivalry and they beat us bad last game, so it felt good to get them back," said Wing, who finished 3-for-3 at the plate with two RBIs. "That home run, the pitch was down and it was a golf swing by me. I hit it well though and was able to get it out."
Said DeDonato, "That homer was huge. He had a 3-1 count. I gave him the hit sign, and he got the pitch he wanted."
Kennett (2-5 Ches-Mont) fell behind 3-0 after four innings. Unionville received an RBI double from Wing in the first, and in the second an RBI single from right fielder Tim Do. In the third, senior center fielder Pete Hissey scored all the way from first base on a steal attempt. He was caught in a run-down but the throw to second went into the outfield. Hissey continued on to third base, and when the throw there also went errant Hissey was awarded home to give the Indians a 3-0 lead.
Kennett finally got on the board in the top of the fifth inning thanks to an RBI double from Chris Edmonds, who plated Dan Spencer after Spencer had lead off the inning with a double. Edmonds would eventually score from third base on an RBI fielders choice by Will Flores to make it 3-2.
After Wing's homer upped Unionville's lead to 4-2, Kennett got within one-run again in the top of the sixth when Eric Middleton scored on a throwing error. Kennett then had a shot to tie the game in the seventh and final inning. After a lead-off ground-out, shortstop Mike Kelly (2-for-4) singled through the hole and into left-field, but was thrown-out at second attempting to stretch it into a double. Kennett starting pitcher Bobby Buttafugo then walked, but Unionville's Wing came into to end the game with a pop-up.