For the Massapequa Coast Little League baseball team, the road to Rhode Island is paved with good . . . everything.
The team of 9- and 10-year-olds won the state championship and begins pool play in the Little League Regional Tournament in Cranston, R.I., on Saturday.
It's next up on their championship checklist after steamrolling through the 16-game season, beating Babylon for the section title, and winning the New York championship Tuesday in Burnt Hills, N.Y. Massapequa defeated Section IV champ Pearl River, 6-0, in the final.
"It was surreal and I can't even describe the feeling in that moment," manager Paul DeGiovanni said. "There's over 200 Little League teams competing in the state to try and win that, and we won it."
Massapequa rolled behind Nick Collins, who pitched a one-hitter with six strikeouts. The offense was balanced as all 11 players on the roster got a hit.
So it's been all season for the team, DeGiovanni said. With "11 is one" as the team mantra, they have gotten dominant pitching, solid defense and great production from a deep offense. This might sum it up: Massapequa has outscored opponents, 168-29 -- several of the games shortened because of the mercy rule, of course.
"I'm over-the-top proud of this group," said DeGiovanni, who has coached baseball for 18 years. "This is by far the most exciting group of kids I've been around."
Excitement usually accompanies winning, and they've done a lot of that. DeGiovanni, along with coaches Mike Schneidler and Harry Moreno, have had this group since they were 8 and they have won several showcases, including last year's East Meadow Tournament. So the success, DeGiovanni said, "doesn't come as a shock to us."
On Wednesday, the team had its first full day off since the season began June 15, the manager said. They practice every day, and go for at least two hours on days there isn't a game.
Massapequa will take on the New Jersey champions at 3:30 p.m. Saturday to kick off the tournament. It then will face Pennsylvania at 5 p.m. Tuesday. Should it emerge from pool play and win Friday's Mid-Atlantic Regional final, it would then square off with the New England champ to wrap up the season.
"I don't think the kids absolutely understand at this point what they've achieved," DeGiovanni said. "To them, it's just another game, another tournament. They're approaching it the same way we have every other tournament."
So far, it's been the right approach.
Michael Moreno, C/P
Nick Collins, P/1B/OF
Dylan DeGiovanni P/INF
Erik Treble, OF/P
Nick Schneidler, P/SS
Connor O'Rourke, OF/P
Anthony Patullo, 3B/P
Ross Mitton, OF
Matthew Zanfardino, OF
Garrett Gibbons, 2B, C
Owen Glascoe, OF