Verrado HS baseball team honors teammate that died while playing for state title

Posted: Updated:
The Verrado High School baseball team played with heavy hearts in the state title game. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The Verrado High School baseball team played with heavy hearts in the state title game. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Bryan McKinsey died unexpectedly last week. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Bryan McKinsey died unexpectedly last week. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
One of the player's dads made T-shirts with a picture of Bryan that said RIP. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) One of the player's dads made T-shirts with a picture of Bryan that said RIP. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Tanner Spallina took it a step further and set a shirt down on one of the chairs in Tempe Diablo Stadium. It was No. 6, his number. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Tanner Spallina took it a step further and set a shirt down on one of the chairs in Tempe Diablo Stadium. It was No. 6, his number. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
His father said the incredible support from the baseball community has helped them get by, especially with his son's team playing Liberty High School in the state championship game. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) His father said the incredible support from the baseball community has helped them get by, especially with his son's team playing Liberty High School in the state championship game. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

It makes perfect sense that Tuesday's 5A state high school championship game is being played where the Angels host spring training.

One of the teams, the Verrado Vipers, was looking to the sky quite a bit, thinking about their friend and teammate Bryan McKinsey, who died unexpectedly last week.

[READ MORE: Verrado HS baseball remembers teammate who died unexpectedly]

Verrado High School head coach Mike Ward said there's no doubt that Bryan is looking down and cheering them on.

"This was his extended family," said Ward. "Every single one of them was an extension of his family. This is where he loved to be, and it seems only right to go out and do this for him."

One of the players' dads made T-shirts with a picture of Bryan that said RIP. 

All of the players wore the shirts to school Tuesday and brought them to the game.

Tanner Spallina took it a step further and set a shirt down on one of the chairs in Tempe Diablo Stadium.

It was seat No. 6, which was Bryan's number.

"We thought we'd put it right on the No. 6 chair so Bryan could still be here to watch the game," said Spallina. "Even though we know he's not here, we thought we'd give him a seat to sit down in."

It was just a couple weeks ago that the 17-year-old relief pitcher threw his last strike helping punch the team's ticket to the state semifinals.

He would never pitch again.

Bryan died unexpectedly at his home.

The cause of death is still unknown.

His father said the incredible support from the baseball community has helped them get by, especially with his son's team playing Liberty High School in the state championship game.

"The families are here, and this is such a small and tight-knit community, it just makes it easier," said Daryl McKinsey. "It's not easy by any stretch, but it makes it easier."

Verrado lost in the title game, 6-2.

Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


Jason Barry
Jason Barry has been reporting in the Valley since 1997.

Click to learn more about Jason.

Jason Barry

Jason Barry has been reporting in the Valley since 1997.

He is a nine-time Rocky Mountain Emmy Award winner who is best known for his weekly Dirty Dining reports, which highlight local restaurants with major health code violations.

Jason was born in Los Angeles and graduated from the University of Miami.

An avid sports fan, Jason follows the Diamondbacks, Cardinals and Suns with his wife, Karen, and son, Joshua.

His favorite stories to cover are the station’s Pay it Forward segments, which reward members of the community with $500 for going ‘above and beyond’ the call of duty to help others.

Jason, started his career at WBTW-TV in Florence, SC before moving to WALA-TV in Mobile, AL, was named the Associated Press Reporter of the Year in 2002.

Hide bio