BRISTOL – In the first ever game of the newly established Metro Regional Tournament, the New York representative, Massapequa Coast Little League, defeated the New Jersey representative, Toms River East Little League, 6-3
In the back and forth contest both teams proved why they belonged in the tournament, however, the resiliency of Massapequa proved to be the difference between the two clubs.
“I’m at a loss of words because of the excitement and a lot of the hype that was presented” New York manager Roland Clark said. “This is the first time our little league is making an appearance as a regional finalist. There’s nothing like the first win of the tournament. I’m so happy for these guys.”
Massapequa got off to a quick start in the first inning thanks to a catalyst play by shortstop Christian Bekiers. Early in the pitch count, Bekiers hit a grounder to third and used his speed to get to first base. Shortly after, Alex Pagano hit a line drive to right field. With Bekiers on third base, a wild pitch gave New York the lead.
New Jersey responded during the bottom of the first. Christian Mascaro hit a single, bringing teammate Brady Gillen home and tying the score.
Massapequa’s Anthony Badagliacca regained the lead for New York, capitalizing on a New Jersey error in the third. In the fourth, Ryan Huksloot extended the lead even further when Liam St. George hit a single bringing home Huksloot.
New York seemed to be pulling away in the fourth. However, New Jersey wouldn’t give up so easily. A deep triple by Deklin Sloan in the fourth allowed Mascaro to come home. Then a RBI single by Bryce Tomitz tied the score once again.
Clark said while the game was back and forth the team was prepared for it due some of their prior games. He said their previous experience gave them confidence in their bout against New Jersey.
“These boys have been there,” he said. “Coming in we talked about the regionals being a tournament of state champions, so everyone here, including Toms River and their storied history through little league and world series appearances, we knew it was going to be tough. We knew we had to come out from the start.”
As the game headed into extra innings, New York confidently walked into the seventh looking to walk away with the win.
Massapequa took the lead after a wild pitch allowed Bekiers to come home. Mikey Castellano then put the game out of reach with a two-run home run.
Castellano said hitting the home run was simply “amazing.”
“The last game gave me confidence for my last at bat to hit that home run,” Castellano said. “I knew it immediately. When I saw it in the air, I knew it was gone.”
Clark said he felt confident walking into the final inning, but “not overly confident because of the caliber of the players on the Toms River team.”
“Their team did a great job,” he said. “Us understanding the significance of games and the ability to be confident in tight situations in something we prepare for.”