Great Valley 5, Unionville 1
● By Steven Hoffman
For the first three innings, the starting pitchers for Unionville and Great Valley were so dominant, and the defenses behind them were playing so well, that it seemed like the teams were destined to play seven or more innings of scoreless baseball on a sunny but blustery afternoon that was not conducive to good offense.
Great Valley put two runners on with one out in the top of the first off Unionville starting pitcher Brady Horne. But the next hitter, Pete Giombetti, hit a hard bouncer that was scooped up by third baseman Joe Love. He stepped on third for the force out and fired to first to complete the double play.
Unionville also put two runners on in the bottom of the first off Great Valley starting pitcher Brendan O'Donnell as Theron Schilling doubled and Joe Zubillaga walked with two outs. O'Donnell pitched out of it, though, retiring Love on a hard hit fly ball to center field.
Horne set Great Valley down in order in the top of the second, striking out two on called third strikes.
O'Donnell allowed one base runner, but had a relatively easy inning of work in the bottom of the second. The last out of the inning came on a hard-hit ball that O'Donnell fielded himself—another nice defensive play.
Both pitchers cruised through the third inning without allowing a hit, but then Great Valley's offense broke through in the top of the fourth. O'Donnell and Giombetti both singled to start the inning. Horne retired the next two hitters, but Cade Reat delivered a two-out single to give Great Valley a 2-0 lead.
O'Donnell continued to keep Unionville's hitters off-balance in the bottom of the inning. He would go on to complete five scoreless innings of work.
Great Valley increased its lead to 5-0 in the top of the sixth. Giombetti singled in one run, while Matt Alleva drove in another. Alleva was also at the plate when an error by Unionville allowed a runner to score from third.
Unionville plated a run off Great Valley reliever Connor Malloy in the bottom half of the sixth. Horne singled with two outs, and then Mike Papiernik doubled to score him. That was the end of the rally, however, as Malloy got the next hitter and retired all three batters in the bottom of the seventh for the victory.
This was the annual game that is played in memory of Cathy Reese, the mother of Tucker Reese, a member of the Unionville baseball program family. Cathy Reese passed away in 2013 after a courageous battle against cancer, at a time when Tucker Reese was playing for Unionville and the KAU American Legion team that won a state championship that year. The players on both Unionville and Great Valley wore pink, the color of breast cancer awareness. The game also brought attention to Unite for HER, a West Chester, Pa.-based organization that was founded in 2009 to fund and deliver free therapies and wellness initiatives that support the physical and emotional needs of people with breast cancer during treatment and beyond.