Today: S.I. Little Leaguers Vie for World Championship

Team to compete against 16 best squads from around the world

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    AP
    The 2009 Mid-Atlantic Little League Champions from Staten Island, New York, are introduced during the opening ceremony at the Little League Baseball World Series.

    It's a big day for a bunch of Little League baseball players from Staten Island.

    The South Shore All-Stars head to Williamsport, Penn., today for a chance to get one step closer to becoming the first team from their borough to win the World Series.

    Aside from proud parents, relatives and friends, former New York Yankee Mike Mussina and Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be cheering on the Little Leaguers from the stands as they take on Washington's Mercer Island squad at 1 p.m.

    Mussina was also on hand yesterday for the annual parade before the first game of the tournament, smiling and waving from a carriage ahead of the South Shore All-Stars' float as the massive crowd shouted "New York is in the house," "Go All-Stars," and even "Go Yankees," reports the Daily News

    It was a proud moment for everyone, especially the father of one of the team's top pitchers, Angelo Navetta.

    "I've got goosebumps," Mike Navetta told the News. "It's always been like a dream to get here. This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing."  

    The Staten Island squad racked up a 4-0 win Monday against New Jersey's Somerset Hills squad in a nationally televised ESPN showdown to earn its berth in the World Series, where the team will go up against 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. Mike Zaccariello, manager for the last 18 years, told the News things clicked right away with his dozen players.

    "Camaraderie - everyone gets along very well," he said. "The parents have been very good. It's been a great experience."

    And Zaccariello is confident his kids are ready for the big time.

    "The team has been tested already beating some tough teams, so I think we're battle-ready," he said.

    In 2006, the Mid-Island All-Star squad from Staten Island reached the World Series. But they lost three straight games and eliminated.