GLOUCESTER-- The Pirates Majors A Gloucester Little League team did not start the year off as a championship caliber team.
Starting the year with a 1-5 record, the Pirates were not expected to be hoisting the league trophy at the end of the year. But something clicked for the team half way through the season. Manager Erik Olson’s squad started to improve through hard work and the teams offense and defense started to turn a corner.
Fast forward to Tuesday night and the Pirates were crowned Gloucester Little League Majors A (11 and 12 year old) champions for the second straight year and the third time in the last four years. The National League champion Pirates swept the American League champion Indians two games to none with a 5-4 win at Boudreau Field.
“If you said at the beginning of the year this team would win the championship I don’t know if anybody would have believed it but ourselves,” Olson said. “We struggled but as the season went on our pitching started to come around and we started to take off. The Indians crushed us in the regular season.”
The Pirates, who picked up a 4-3 win in game 1 of the series, got it done in game 2 thanks to a little bit of small ball. With the score tied at 4-4 in the bottom of the fifth, the Pirates scored the winning run on a perfectly executed squeeze play.
No. 6 hitter Timmy White laid down a perfect bunt and Derek Hopkins beat a throw home to the plate to make it 5-4 Pirates. Pitcher Jonathan Reardon would take care of the rest in the sixth to preserve the win.
“Those plays are something we have worked on all year and the credit goes to the kids for executing it,” Olson said. “This team worked really hard in practice over the year to improve in every facet of the game, and they wanted to work to get better, that’s the best thing about this team.”
The Pirates took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when leadoff hitter Diego Corona walked and came in to score on three wild pitches. The Indians, however, came roaring back to take a 4-1 lead in the top of the third.
Eric Chalmers led off the inning with a solo home run to left center tying the score at 1-1. Alex Favazza, Will Moore and Cal Spencer all came in to score later in the inning on a pair of fielders choices and a wild pitch respectively to make it 4-1 Indians.
“This team has battled through a lot of adversity this year,” Olson said. “We showed a lot of heart coming back tonight, we were down early in the season and we were behind in every one of our playoff games.”
The Pirates got back into the game in the bottom of the third with a pair of runs. Chris Cassateri came in to score on a wild pitch after reaching on a single to make it 4-2. Later in the inning Eric Cameron scored on a Hopkins single to make it 4-3.
The Pirates would tie up the score the very next inning when Keith Lebraun reached on a fielding error, moved to third no a throwing error and came in to score on a wild pitch.
The Pirates five runs came on just three hits from Hopkins, Cameron and Cassateri. The Indians also had three hits in the game from Chalmers, Will Moore and Alex Favazza.