Massapequa Coast is one win away from qualifying for the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.  Credit: Newsday/Mike Ruiz

BRISTOL, Conn. – The Massapequa Coast little league team is looking to do something no Long Island team has done in over four decades.

The team plays Toms River East (New Jersey) at 7 p.m. on Friday night in the Mid-Atlantic Region Championship in a game broadcast on ESPN. A victory would earn them a trip to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, which starts on Aug. 16. Massapequa Coast would be the first Long Island team to reach the Little League World Series since Rockville Centre in 1978.

“It would be great to go to the Little League World Series,” Joey Lionetti, Massapequa Coast’s projected starting pitcher on Friday, told Newsday on Thursday. “It would just be a dream.”


Massapequa Coast coach Roland Clark emphasized how the recent road to winning their league’s first New York State championship in 72 years of existence has helped prepare them for the magnitude of this moment.

“What I’ve been saying, and my assistant coach as well, is that we’ve been in these situations before for the last six weeks,” Clark said. “In our district championship we had to beat one of our rivals twice. In Sections we had a tough opponent, which we beat. And when we went to States, the team that we played, West Nyack, had beaten us in pool play a couple of days prior to the championship.

“So the boys have seen this adversity before and they’re prepared. New Jersey’s going to be a tough opponent; we saw them in the first game of the opening round. And we’ll be ready to go on Friday.”

Massapequa Coast beat Toms Rivers East last Saturday, 6-3, in extra innings.

Shortstop Christian Bekiers, who struck out the final batter with runners on second and third to close out the first game of the double-elimination Metro Regional Championship on Monday for a 7-5 victory over Fairfield American (Conn.), said making it to this position has been thrilling.

“To make it to Williamsport would be great,” Bekiers said. “I really want to win. But just being here is awesome. I’m just happy to be here.”

There will be a watch party at Burns Park in Massapequa Park on Friday night so fans can gather and cheer on the team together.

“That’s amazing,” right fielder Alex Pagano said. “The fact that we made it here, we’re on ESPN already and to have our fans back home supporting us by watching on a big TV is great.”

Pagano said earning a trip to Williamsport and being the first Long Island team to make it in 44 years would be an accomplishment that goes unmatched for Massapequa Coast.

“To qualify," Pagano said, "would probably be the best thing that we could ever ask for in Massapequa Coast Little League history."

Long Island's Own