Saturday was bad.
Nothing would make the situation better – really better – but a loss made it all a little bit worse.
“There’s just so much stuff going on right now and that loss just made everything sort of depressing,” Ed Markowski said.
The Hendricken senior lost his grandmother Tess Monti in sudden and heart-breaking fashion on Friday. She suffered a heart attack while leaving McCarthy Stadium after watching her grandson help the Hawks to victory in game one of a Division I semifinal series. She was 83.
Markowski was back on the field Saturday, playing with a heavy heart but insisting on playing. Johnston beat the Hawks in extra-innings, handing them their first loss of the year.
But Sunday – Tess Monti would have liked Sunday.
The Hawks clinched a spot in the state championship series with a 5-2 victory. Markowski was at the center of it, hitting a solo home run in the third inning and prompting anyone who knew Tess Monti to think about the smile that home run – and the Hendricken victory – would have brought to her face.
“Tess would have wanted us to win,” senior pitcher Dillon Manfredi said. “She was one of our biggest supporters. Anybody who’s a Hendricken fan knew her.”
That’s why the Hawks wanted to win for her. They wrote her initials on their hats before Saturday’s game. Before he took the mound on Sunday, Manfredi drew her initials in the dirt behind the pitching rubber.
It was the least they could do for one of their most devoted fans. Whether it was hockey or baseball, she never missed one of her grandson’s games. Hendricken fans joked Saturday that she would have watched him play checkers.
“She was at every game,” Markowski said. “Every hockey game, every baseball game.”
Her encouraging words were as much a constant as her presence.
“She was like a grandmother to all of our players,” Manfredi said. “She always supported us. You get shelled in one inning and she’d say, ‘You did a great job.’”
The Hawks followed her lead in supporting Markowski. It was not easy for him to return to McCarthy on Saturday, and his teammates knew that.
“It’s just amazing the way they care about me and my family,” Markowski said. “My grandma really showed a lot of support for them. When I got to the field yesterday, they all had her initials on their hats. It’s remarkable.”
The Hawks would have made her proud regardless, but the victory and the trip to McCoy were a fitting tribute.
“Everything that happened today – the home run, the win – it makes everything a lot better,” Markowski said.
It took an extra day, but Tess Monti wouldn’t have minded one more game.
And she would have loved the victory.
“We really wanted to win it yesterday for him,” Manfredi said. “We couldn’t, but we won it today.”
William Geoghegan is the sports editor at the Warwick Beacon. He can be reached at 732-3100 and firstname.lastname@example.org.