Plainview is honoring its local youth baseball team as it prepares for the regional tournament that could move them to the Little League World Series.
Having won this year’s 10-to-12-year-old New York State Championship Series 4-0, the Plainview Hawks have become the first Long Island team to advance to the Little League Regional Tournament in more than 12 years. The regional games start Sunday in Bristol, Connecticut.
“We knew we had something great. Each year we got better and better,” said shortstop Tyler Stern, 12. “We were really motivated to represent New York and go to regionals, and we got it accomplished. We did it, and now we’re representing New York.”
The team’s strength lies in its balanced roster, Hawks head coach Paul Brower said. All nine starters on the team’s 11-player roster hit at least one home run during the state championship series. Brower added that most teams go through a few roster changes every year, but the core of the Hawks has been playing together since they were 7 years old.
“It’s very rare, especially on Long Island, with club teams constantly taking the talent and pulling kids off the town teams,” Brower said. “But we were fortunate enough to keep this group together.”
Members of the team were invited to Yankee Stadium Wednesday afternoon and honored in the fifth inning of the Yankees’ game against the Detroit Tigers. Parents of team members said that their community has gained recognition from the team’s victory in the state championships.
“It feels like a whirlwind. I can’t believe we’re going to Yankee Stadium,” Shari Stern, Tyler’s mother, said before the game in the Bronx. “They played so hard, and they’re really there for each other. They’re like a band of brothers.”
Plainview Little League organized an autograph-signing event by Hawks members Wednesday night to celebrate their victory — the first of its kind since the team’s formation in the 1950s, Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino said.
“They are the pride of our community, they are the pride of our town,” Saladino said. “Every player has the right to be extremely proud and jumping for joy. I am so happy for them.”
Matthew Mullen, 13, is one of two members of the Hawks roster who joined after the team was first formed as a 7-year-old and under group. Mullen, who joined the team last year as a first baseman and right fielder, said he was never an outsider to the Hawks.
“At first it was a little different, but since I knew all of them, and they were all my friends, they accepted me.” Mullen said. “Everyone had to step up and do something, and everyone did that.”
Plainview’s first game in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament will be Monday at 10 a.m. against the winner of Sunday’s Washington, D.C. vs. New Jersey game.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story gave the wrong day and omitted a potential opponent for Plainview’s first game in the regional tournament.