The state champion Dedham 9s Cal Ripken baseball team tasted sweet victory over the weekend capturing their first-ever title; then they tasted some pizza and pasta Thursday night courtesy of a local Italian restaurant.
Buca di Beppo provided free dinner and a function hall for the 2012 EMass Cal Ripken 9-year-old champions.
More than 80 players, parents, family, friends and coaches came out to give the team a celebratory send-off dinner before traveling to Hebron, Conn., on Friday for the beginning of the New England Regionals tournament.
Dedham will play their first game of the double elimination tournament on Saturday against Newtown, Conn. at 10 a.m.
Coach Mike Nosky was proud of what the team has been able to accomplish so far.
"This group of 9-year-olds refused to lose down in Plymouth. After we lost in our third game, it would have been easy for these kids to just take the easy road and roll over, but they never thought about losing or that another team might have been better than they were.
"They always took the field thinking that they were the better team and it showed," Nosky said. "Its an honor to be wearing Dedham maroon down in [Hebron, Conn.] We've had so much support from so many people that we don't even know. We are going down with the full intention of winning the New England Championship."
Nosky said he was also thankful for the support the team has seen during their championship run and beyond.
"As awesome as it is for the team to have become Dedham's first State Champions, it is still a huge financial burden on the families having to basically plan a new summer vacation on two weeks notice. But because of some of our sponsors - Buca di Beppo, Roche Bros. in Westwood, Star Market, Desert Works, Lapels, ASPI, The Blue Bunny, Centre Deli, the American Legion Post, Russell Stamm and Isabella's - who really stepped up to help the families, we were able to concentrate on just playing baseball and not on where the additional money was going to come from."