Skip to main content

The National champions return to Kennett Square as Kings

08/28/2013 05:09PM, Published by ACL, Categories: In Print, Sports


The KAU Kings received a warm welcome in Kennett Square after making it all the way to the World Series championship game.



Before the Eastern Regional champion KAU Kings boarded their bus for the ride to Bangor, Maine to compete in the Little League Senior Division World Series, manager Eric Duerr was asked what his expectations were. He said, “Our highest expectation is that we’re participating.”

Possible translation? “We’re just happy to be here.”

Defying their manager’s expectations, the Kings advanced to the World Series championship game. Despite losing to Panama, 2-1, for the world title, the Kennett Square 16U team earned a title that eluded every other team in the United States: National Champion. And those same National Champions earned one more reward for their trip to the World Series: a parade through Kennett Square and a welcome home celebration at the KAU Sinton Field after their 16-hour bus ride home from Bangor.

The chance to “win it all” came down to the bottom of the 7th inning of the championship game.

Image title

Cheered on by what Kings’ Coach Mike Pechin called  “an embarrassingly pro-KAU crowd” of both international and American fans, the USA East squad had runners on second and third with two out while trailing just 2-1 to Chitre. Jake Freeman had busted down the first base line to beat a short-armed throw from Panama third baseman Edgardo Sandoval and Eric Takhousian followed with a single up the middle. Dan Garver sacrificed to move Freeman to third and Takoushain to second.  With one out, Panama pitcher Javier Garcia—he of the 91-mile-per-hour fastball  and 67-mile-per-hour sweeping curveball--struck out Chris Tucker on four pitches and battled Drew Jarmuz into hitting three straight foul balls, the third of which was caught by Chitre first baseman Carlos Espinoza to end the game. As Garcia reportedly signed a contract with the New York Mets, Pechin said, “We got beat by a 16-year-old with major league quality stuff.”

Repeatedly throughout the tournament, Duerr reminded the players  “It’s not only about the game and about being at the World Series. It’s about the sacrifices their families have made to be here. It’s about the thousands of people in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, and across the country watching them—especially the younger players at KAU. They need to realize what it means for other people to see them play in the World Series and to demonstrate behavior and sportsmanship that makes them worthy to be here.”

Duerr said that through “tweets,” texts, and e-mails on the bus ride back to Kennett Square, the team learned of the growing  welcome-home reception. The team bus—expected to arrive around 6 p.m.—was nearly two hours behind its ETA. “As the ride grew longer, the delays had the boys anxious that they would arrive to find a couple dozen people,” Duerr said. “When we hit Kennett Square and the fire and police departments pulled out in front of the bus, we realized we were in for something very special. We did not imagine it would be what it turned out to be,” Duerr said. “We thought we would get off the bus, shake hands, and go home."” 
As the sirens squealed and horns blared from nearly a dozen emergency vehicles, hundreds of fans lined State Street from the YMCA down to Route 82. The players got off the bus and walked several blocks, shaking hands and high-fiving the fans. And when the bus made its way to the place where many of the players’ baseball careers started—Leslie Road—they were greeted by nearly 300 more people. Coaches, parents, girlfriends, and neighbors applauded as the players walked down the main stairs to the field. Lined along the stairs were many younger KAUers, chanting “KAU-USA” and reaching out to slap hands and high five.

The players entered the field to the theme from “Rocky” to begin a ceremony at home plate. 

Duerr told the crowd he remembered many of the players as six-year-olds. “This has been a Image titledream come true, I think, for everyone involved, either on or off the field,” he said. He added that many of the people he spoke with did not believe that the team came from a small town. “Are you sure you didn’t get them from other places?” Duerr said he was asked. “I told them, nope, they’re all home grown, every one of them.”

While winning games was the eventual U.S. Champions’  top priority, learning about other cultures was a byproduct of the trip to Bangor. Players asked one another about their towns, what the school year was like, how they traveled to the World Series. Twitter names were exchanged and promises made to keep in touch. In fact, about three hours after the championship game ended, the Senior Leaguers from Kennett Square were playing Wiffle ball in the hotel courtyard with their new friends from Chicago and Italy. Continuing a World Series tradition of exchanging “pins” with all participating teams, the KAU 16s did just that. And when they had no more pins—inscribed “Mushroom Capital of the World” and donated by Bove Jewelers of Kennett Square—they traded clothes with members of the other teams from around the world and across the U.S.

Resiliency was what helped guide the KAU squad from a district title to the sectional, to a state championship, and then to an Eastern Regional championship and the ultimate: a trip to the World Series. Personal circumstances could have been distractions. Tucker Reese commuted five hours to and from Sectionals to be with his mother in the final days of her long battle with cancer. Jarmuz dealt with the death of his grandfather during Regionals. Jake Freeman’s grandmother is in hospice fighting cancer. And Eric Duerr suffered a concussion during a violent collision at home plate in a pool play game with Panama. This all affected the team at the World Series. Pechin said, “This team was walking a thin emotional line and even the slightest little thing might make it go ‘boom.’”

Image title

“Just working hard, hanging around one another, enjoying each other, developing friendships, and experiencing this unbelievable time together has helped this team cope with much more than a group of boys this age should be expected to,” Duerr said.

Pechin said that in an emotional meeting after the championship game, he challenged the boys. “Sometimes kids at this age can be very self-centered. I told them this is not just about them. Many good and decent human beings—mothers, fathers, families, friends—gave up a lot to be here and to get you here,” reminding them not only of the finances involved for such a trip, but of the many hours spent at games and on the practice fields. “I told them I expected them to pay everyone back when they have kids of their own. Maybe some of these boys have learned to care about other people and not just about themselves.”

The U.S. Champions’ manager concluded that “the welcome home celebration helped convey what the coaches had only been able to verbalize to the players:  they were not playing for the Kings, they were playing for Kennett Square and the many folks at home who had come to appreciate that baseball is community-based. For a group of boys to band together from a small town and play all the way to the biggest stage of teen baseball, well, the reception put it all in perspective.”


Like what you're reading? Subscribe to Chester County's free newsletter to catch every headline



kennett square kau baseball championship kau kings little league world series


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Sunny Container Gardens

    05/04/2016
    10:30AM — 12:30PM

    Add a bit of summertime flair to your garden with a colorful container of sun-loving perennials. ...


  • Pajama Storytime

    05/04/2016
    06:30PM — 07:30PM

    Wednesdays at 6:30 PM - Join us for an evening of stories, songs, crafts, and fun to end your day...


  • Pro-Act's Family Education Program

    05/04/2016
    07:00PM — 09:00PM

    When someone is addicted to drugs & alcohol, the diease affects the entire family. Each month PR...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Right Tool, Right Place

    05/05/2016
    10:00AM — 11:30AM

    Gardening is a wonderful activity for your health and well-being; but like any activity, there ar...


  • What will I See on the Sun Today?

    05/05/2016
    03:00PM — 05:00PM

    It's all about LIGHT. Safely observe the sun through special solar glasses, telescopes in three d...


  • Clutterers Anonymous

    05/05/2016
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    Clutterers Anonymous℠ (CLA℠) is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strengt...


  • Lessons from the Winemaker

    05/05/2016
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    The Lessons from the Winemaker series will begin in May and continue until December. One Thursday...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Debtors Anonymous

    05/09/2016
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    In D.A., our purpose is threefold: to stop incurring unsecured debt, to share our experience wit...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Tail Waggin' Tutors

    05/10/2016
    04:30PM — 05:30PM

    Practice reading to a certified therapy dog. This relaxed animal friendly atmosphere allows stud...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Sunny Container Gardens

    05/04/2016
    10:30AM — 12:30PM

    Add a bit of summertime flair to your garden with a colorful container of sun-loving perennials. ...


  • Pajama Storytime

    05/04/2016
    06:30PM — 07:30PM

    Wednesdays at 6:30 PM - Join us for an evening of stories, songs, crafts, and fun to end your day...


  • Pro-Act's Family Education Program

    05/04/2016
    07:00PM — 09:00PM

    When someone is addicted to drugs & alcohol, the diease affects the entire family. Each month PR...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Right Tool, Right Place

    05/05/2016
    10:00AM — 11:30AM

    Gardening is a wonderful activity for your health and well-being; but like any activity, there ar...


  • What will I See on the Sun Today?

    05/05/2016
    03:00PM — 05:00PM

    It's all about LIGHT. Safely observe the sun through special solar glasses, telescopes in three d...


  • Clutterers Anonymous

    05/05/2016
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    Clutterers Anonymous℠ (CLA℠) is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strengt...


  • Lessons from the Winemaker

    05/05/2016
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    The Lessons from the Winemaker series will begin in May and continue until December. One Thursday...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • National Public Gardens Day

    05/06/2016
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Celebrate America's public gardens with a complimentary visit to Mt. Cuba Center! Relax in our ga...


  • National Public Gardens Day

    05/06/2016
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Celebrate America's public gardens with a complimentary visit to Mt. Cuba Center! Relax in our ga...


  • Join the fun at a Quarter Auction by Friends for Rescue & Pet Care in Newark on Friday May 6, 201...


  • Charlie Zahm is back presenting an evening of Civil War era music and history---this time it's Th...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Wildflower Walk

    05/07/2016
    09:00AM — 11:00AM

    With Janet Ebert, Botanist Saturday, May 7th from 9:00AM-11:00AM Location: Bucktoe Creek Preser...


  • Develop a personal photographic style and bring your technical and artistic skills to a new level...


  • Church Yard Sale

    05/07/2016
    09:00AM — 02:00PM

    As part of the East Goshen Township Community Day program, there will be a yard sale at UCCEG, 1...


  • Aston E-Waste & Data Destruction Event

    05/07/2016
    09:00AM — 01:00PM

    ELECTRONIC ITEMS ACCEPTED— Almost anything with a plug! Hard drive & cell phone destruction $10...


  • Famous Chicken BBBQ

    05/07/2016
    01:30PM — 04:30PM

    CHICKEN BBQ, Saturday, May 7, 1:30-4:30 p.m., LANDENBERG CHURCH at 205 Landenberg Road, Landenbe...


  • Banding Together for Dravet

    05/07/2016
    07:00PM — 09:15PM

    Join us at the first ever Banding Together for Dravet on Saturday, May 7, 2016. Proceeds benef...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • 2016 Kacie's Cause MOTHER'S DAY WALK

    05/08/2016
    09:00AM — 12:00PM

    We hope you will join us for the Third Annual Mother's Day Walk. This is a FAMILY EVENT (rain or ...


  • 2016 Kacie's Cause MOTHER'S DAY WALK

    05/08/2016
    09:00AM — 12:00PM

    We hope you will join us for the Third Annual Mother's Day Walk. This is a FAMILY EVENT (rain or ...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Debtors Anonymous

    05/09/2016
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    In D.A., our purpose is threefold: to stop incurring unsecured debt, to share our experience wit...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Tail Waggin' Tutors

    05/10/2016
    04:30PM — 05:30PM

    Practice reading to a certified therapy dog. This relaxed animal friendly atmosphere allows stud...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Pilates Class: Get in Shape for Summer!

    05/11/2016
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    Sign up for FREE Pilates Class, back by popular demand! It's a 6 week session- attend them all or...


  • Pajama Storytime

    05/11/2016
    06:30PM — 07:30PM

    Wednesdays at 6:30 PM - Join us for an evening of stories, songs, crafts, and fun to end your day...


  • Pro-Act's Family Education Program

    05/11/2016
    07:00PM — 09:00PM

    When someone is addicted to drugs & alcohol, the diease affects the entire family. Each month PR...


  • The Garden After Dark

    05/11/2016
    07:30PM — 09:30PM

    From Perseus and Hercules to Pegasus and Leo, the spring sky abounds with mesmerizing constellati...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Growing Native Orchids

    05/12/2016
    10:00AM — 01:00PM

    Whether you are a rank beginner or a master gardener, hardy native orchids can grow and thrive in...


  • Meditation

    05/12/2016
    05:30PM — 06:30PM

    Increased concentration, decreased anxiety, and a general feeling of well-being can be achieved t...


  • Meditation

    05/12/2016
    05:30PM — 06:30PM

    Increased concentration, decreased anxiety, and a general feeling of well-being can be achieved t...


  • Clutterers Anonymous

    05/12/2016
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    Clutterers Anonymous℠ (CLA℠) is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strengt...


  • Scattered throughout the nearby Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area are the remains of on...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Spring Art-In

    05/13/2016
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Join us for a day of art and let your creativity bloom while you draw, paint, or photograph Mt. C...


  • Spring Art-In

    05/13/2016
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Join us for a day of art and let your creativity bloom while you draw, paint, or photograph Mt. C...


  • Color In Your Bedroom

    05/13/2016
    07:00PM — 09:00PM

    Come and discover how to balance your physical health and intimate relationships with the color a...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • WHITE CANE DAY

    05/14/2016
    09:00AM — 02:00PM

    LIONS ON THE LOOSE IN OXFORD THE OXFORD LIONS CLUB MEMBERS WILL BE ON 3RD STREET, REDNERS MA...


  • Elemental Ayurvedic Readings

    05/14/2016
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    The 2 hour consultation with Sarah Tomlinson directs your awareness to your personal strengths an...


  • Sustainable Landscape Techniques

    05/14/2016
    10:00AM — 02:00PM

    Make your landscape more ecologically sound by implementing a variety of sustainable gardening an...


  • Stateline Loop Run for Conservation

    05/14/2016
    10:00AM — 02:00PM

    Join The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County (TLC) on Saturday, May 14th for the annual ...


  • The Copeland Legacy: Conserving Native Plants

    05/14/2016
    10:30AM — 12:30PM

    Join us for Community Read, a multi-institutional program designed to inspire reading, conversati...


  • Color For Stress Reduction

    05/14/2016
    03:00PM — 06:00PM

    In this unique three-hour workshop you will discover how the activity of Coloring Yantras brings ...


  • Celebrate the power of four paws with CPL! This canine chic celebration is filled with opportunit...


  • Concordia Voices Presents: New Heaven

    05/14/2016
    07:30PM — 09:00PM

    Concordia Choral Arts’ 2015-2016 Performance Year, titled THE NEW WORLD continues with our spring...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Tail Waggin' Tutors

    05/15/2016
    01:00PM — 02:00PM

    Practice reading to a certified therapy dog. This relaxed animal friendly atmosphere allows stud...


  • Taste Kennett Food Tours

    05/15/2016
    01:00PM — 04:00PM

    Taste Kennett Food Tours, creators of memorable, unique and fun food experiences, offer three-hou...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Don't miss this opportunity to visit and photograph four magnificent mid-Atlantic gardens at the ...


  • Photographing Gardens of the Brandywine Valley

    05/16/2016
    06:00AM — 04:30PM

    Don't miss this opportunity to visit and photograph four magnificent mid-Atlantic gardens at the ...


  • Debtors Anonymous

    05/16/2016
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    In D.A., our purpose is threefold: to stop incurring unsecured debt, to share our experience wit...


  • Pilates Class: Get in Shape for Summer!

    05/16/2016
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    Sign up for FREE Pilates Class, back by popular demand! It's a 6 week session- attend them all or...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Carnival at St. Peter Parish in West Brandywine

    05/18/2016
    03:00PM — 10:00PM

    St. Peter Parish in West Brandywine, PA (Chester County) Wed. May 18-Sat. May 21. Event runs 5-1...


  • Pajama Storytime

    05/18/2016
    06:30PM — 07:30PM

    Wednesdays at 6:30 PM - Join us for an evening of stories, songs, crafts, and fun to end your day...


  • Pro-Act's Family Education Program

    05/18/2016
    07:00PM — 09:00PM

    When someone is addicted to drugs & alcohol, the diease affects the entire family. Each month PR...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • The Allure of Native Azaleas

    05/19/2016
    10:00AM — 11:30AM

    Are you fascinated by native azaleas but aren't sure how to grow them? Steven Kristoph examines s...


  • Clutterers Anonymous

    05/19/2016
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    Clutterers Anonymous℠ (CLA℠) is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strengt...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Treehouse Workshop

    05/21/2016
    08:00AM

    Learn how to build a treehouse in the safest and most tree friendly way. Instructors include carp...


  • Grains of the World Dinner

    05/21/2016
    06:00PM — 08:00PM

    Newlin Grist Mill director Tony Shahan will host a special dining event featuring grains from acr...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Taste Kennett Food Tours

    05/22/2016
    01:00PM — 04:00PM

    Taste Kennett Food Tours, creators of memorable, unique and fun food experiences, offer three-hou...


  • Quarter Auction

    05/22/2016
    01:00PM — 05:00PM

    Quarter Auction. There will also be Special Raffle Baskets and a 50/50. Visit www.curecancertoday...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Debtors Anonymous

    05/23/2016
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    In D.A., our purpose is threefold: to stop incurring unsecured debt, to share our experience wit...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Tail Waggin' Tutors

    05/24/2016
    04:30PM — 05:30PM

    Practice reading to a certified therapy dog. This relaxed animal friendly atmosphere allows stud...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Leaf Imprinted Ceramic Vessel

    05/25/2016
    12:00PM — 04:00PM

    Create a nature-inspired vessel (vase or bowl) using foliage from our native trees as the design ...


  • Yoga

    05/25/2016
    05:00PM — 06:00PM

    Increase your range of motion, core body strength, and flexibility through the practice of yoga i...


  • Yoga

    05/25/2016
    05:00PM — 06:00PM

    Increase your range of motion, core body strength, and flexibility through the practice of yoga i...


  • Pajama Storytime

    05/25/2016
    06:30PM — 07:30PM

    Wednesdays at 6:30 PM - Join us for an evening of stories, songs, crafts, and fun to end your day...


  • Pro-Act's Family Education Program

    05/25/2016
    07:00PM — 09:00PM

    When someone is addicted to drugs & alcohol, the diease affects the entire family. Each month PR...


Chester County High School Sports