Friday night's loss to Honolulu at the Little League World Series didn't stop Massapequa Coast from showing up to practice on Saturday with high spirits in preparation for Sunday's elimination game.  Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — The Massapequa Coast Little League players realize this trip to the Little League World Series could be the end of an era. They’ve been playing together since they were 8 years old, and when they turn 13, they could be spending summers with different travel teams.

“We’ve been talking about making something happen because it’s our last time together,” shortstop Christian Bekiers said. “We’ve grown really close over the years playing together, and spending this month together made us even closer.”

Unlike most other Little Leagues, Massapequa Coast opts to keep teams together by age. It has teams of players that are 12, 11 and 10 and never mixes the ages.

“We strive for success at all levels,” league president Craig Garland said. “We don’t put all our eggs in one basket.”

“One benefit of the policy is how close this group is,” manager Roland Clark said. “You can see it translate to their play on the field.”

Happy with all new gear

The Little League World Series outfits every participating player from head to toe when they arrive here. The Massapequa Coast team went for a uniform fitting in which they got orange and black uniforms and practice jerseys as well as new cleats from adidas. Each player got a high-end aluminum bat, batting gloves and travel bags from Easton. The catchers also got new chest protectors, shin guards and masks from Easton.

“Getting all the new gear was pretty cool — I love it,” centerfielder Danny Fregara said.

Added catcher Ryan Huksloot: “We knew about the uniforms, but the cleats and equipment was a surprise — a really awesome surprise.”

Safety is paramount

On Monday, Easton Oliverson of Mountain Region champion Utah fell from a top bunk in the team’s dormitory and suffered a head injury. He reportedly is recovering from surgery at an area hospital. As a result of the accident, all of the bunk beds in the dormitories were disassembled into floor-standing twin beds.

“We talked to the kids before about being smart with their down time,” Clark said. “We’re glad [Oliverson] is doing well, but this illustrated what a big deal safety is.”

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