New York second baseman Joseph Ruggirello tosses the ball to third to force out Washington base runner Aidan Plummer out in the second inningduring pool play of the Little League World Series Friday, Aug. 21, in South Williamsport, Pa.
The South Shore National team crushed Mercer Island, a Washington state squad representing the Northwest, by a score of 10-2 as former Yankee Mike Mussina, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and a cheering squad of New Yorkers rooted them on to victory in the first round of the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Penn.
"It means a lot," said Peter Lunarola, a parent of a little leaguer, who watched the game at a Nucci's restaurant on Staten Island. "They practice hard. They play hard. It's just unbelieveable."
Nick Pucciarelli knocked in four runs with a homer and a two-run triple, Angelo Navetta struck out nine in five-plus innings. James Morisano broke a scoreless tie in the third with a run-scoring single before Pucciarelli followed with a homer to right field for a 3-0 lead.
New York (1-0) added four more runs in the fourth, keyed by Pucciarelli's triple.
Navetta took a shutout into the sixth before Washington (0-1) scored twice, including an RBI double by Michael Bantle. Navetta left with one out when he reached his 65-pitch limit.
On Monday, the Staten Island squad racked up a 4-0 win against New Jersey's Somerset Hills squad in a nationally televised ESPN showdown to earn its berth in the World Series, and the right to face 16 of the best Little League squads in the world – eight from the United States and eight from other countries.
The group of 11- and 12-year-olds were selected for the all-star team in mid-June after the local Little League season ended. In 2006, the Mid-Island All-Star squad from Staten Island reached the World Series. But they lost three straight games and eliminated.
The last time a New York City Little League team won the World Series was in 1964.