MILL Juniors return home from World Series to a enthusiastic community welcome
Massapequans came out in force tonight to welcome home the MILL Juniors who made history by becoming Regional Champions and taking part in the Little League World Series.
The team would have come in much later than their 8:45 arrival at John Burns Park had it not been for the limousine that picked them up in Philadelphia where their plane landed early Sunday evening.
“I was shocked,” said MILL Junior Andrew Primm when asked what he thought of the door-to-door limousine service the league provided. “We thought we would be in a school bus.”
The revelers lined the entranceway into John Burns Park and raised banners and signs congratulating the team and welcoming them home. They shouted and applauded as the limousine pulled in.
“It was great,” said Daniel Favicco who, with his teammates wanted to extend a thank you to the Massapequa community for the warm welcome home.
The team made history as the first MILL Junior players to head to the World Series after Regional Competition, said Coach Joe Pinto who spent a few moments to reveling in some of the best moments of the games that brought the team so far.
He pointed to some of the highlights of the games including coming out of the loser’s bracket to win the New York State Championship as they defeated Highland, 6-4, on Fri., Aug. 26, Franklin Square 5-1 and Oleon 13-6 on Saturday, and on Sunday came back to avenge their only loss by defeating Senaca River North Little League 3-2 and 13-4 to take the title. The Juniors went 6-1 in capturing only the second New York State Championship in MILL history (1995).
“When we got to the Regionals, we couldn’t believe it,” said Pinto. “The team we were up against had an unbelievable record against their opponents. We were asking ourselves, ‘What are we doing here’.”
But why they were there soon became obvious; the team had guts and a never-give-up attitude, outdone only by great pitching, fielding and hitting.
“What made this even more incredible is that we had to win five games in a row after falling to the losers bracket,” said Pinto recalling the team’s win in the Regionals. “We won four games in two days with limited pitching due to the rules, and for the first time in MILL history, a young lady (Kristen Moldovan, the team’s only female player), pitched and won in a New York State Championship game. It was really a great all-around team effort and one of my proudest moments as a coach.”
Pinto also recalled when Moldovan was introduced at the banquet dinner. “The place went crazy,” he said.
The MILL Junior team includes Joseph Amadio, Patrick Clyne, Michael Cottone, Andrew Ditzel, Daniel Favicchio, Joseph Imbriano, Cole Masterson, Matthew Pinto, Andrew Primm, Gregory Slator, Vincent Tossone, Kristen Moldovan and Matthew Voyes. Manager is Joe Pinto and coaches are Joe Amadio and Greg Slator.
Between the Regionals and World Series, the players have been away from home for more than two weeks. While they weren’t quite ready to stop celebrating they did say they were looking forward to one thing in particular: “A good, home cooked meal,” said Primm with the rest of the team agreeing quickly.