The Superior Pirates ended their underdog run at Parenteau Field in the Hayes Court Little League complex on Thursday, July 25, with a 3-10 loss to undefeated Eastern Gray of Duluth.
The Superior Youth Organization minors team didn’t snag the championship title, but the Pirate crew of 9- and 10-year-olds finished the season in second place. They also captured some bounty for those in need.
Prior to the championship game against the Eastern Gray, the Pirates held a food drive for the Salvation Army. They collected soup, canned fruits and vegetables, packaged side dishes and more.
“We’re donating food to people who have had a hard time,” pitcher Ryker Riedasch said.
“We care about people that can’t get food,” teammate Landon Modeen said.
Pirate Kaleb Cinicola and his older brother, A.J., pitched the idea for the food drive. The brothers said when their father lost his job, the Salvation Army was there to help them. Now, they want to pay it forward.
The team was quick to accept the challenge.
“It’s very characteristic of them,” coach Dave Dennis said. “Every one of them has such kind hearts.”
The Pirates came into the gold bracket as the underdogs following a string of four losses. Out of the seven teams in the bracket, they were the No. 7 seed. But they pulled together to win a 6-4 victory over the No. 2 seed Twins on July 22 and a 7-6 triumph over the No. 3 seed Brewers on Tuesday, July 23, paving the way to the championship game.
“They’re the talk of the town in the Little League world,” manager Cyndi Dennis said.
A positive attitude, hard work and growing confidence brought them to the final game. Coach Erik Modeen said it’s been fun to see how much the team has improved during the season.
“They worked hard, credit where credit is due,” Dave Dennis said prior to Thursday’s showdown. “We’re super excited to be playing in this game.”
Thursday’s game was bittersweet for the coaches, as the Pirate crew must now break up. SYO teams come together through a player draft, and they’ll be drafted into new teams next year. But they sailed into the future with a second-place win and food to share.