Game 1: Mid-Atlantic 10 vs. Northwest 2

Staten Island Wins Little League World Series Opener

Source: South Williamsport, Pa.

Date/Time: Friday, August 21, 2009, 1:00pm ET

At the onset of the Little League World Series’ opening game, it didn’t seem possible that the result could be a 10-2 victory for South Shore National Little League (N.Y.) in the opening game of the 63rd Little League Baseball World Series.

The start could not have been any stronger for Mercer Island Little League (Wash.) pitcher William Mansfield. The left-hander struck out four of the first five batters he faced.
But South Shore, far from intimidated, had a pitcher who would toss a strong game himself. Left-hander Angelo Navetta allowed seven hits and one earned run in 5.1 innings of work. Navetta threw 79 pitches in his outing with an eye-popping 68 of those strikes. The fastball and curveball were his main weapons, although his manager did let him throw in a knuckleball—the first one he had thrown in tournament play.

“It helps a lot to be pitching like that where if you make a mistake, you have run support,” Navetta said.

That run support came from an offensive attack that pounded out 11 hits, including a two-run double by Navetta.

In the third inning, catcher James Morisano got Staten Island on the board with an RBI single. Not to be outdone, center fielder Nick Pucciarelli provided a further boost with a blast well over the right field fence to extend the lead to 3-0.

Mercer Island, which had not lost on the tournament trail in 15 games, didn’t reach base in its half of the inning, and South Shore took advantage in the fourth.

Three doubles, a triple and a single led to four more runs. Eight players batted in the inning, three of whom—center fielder Nick Pucciarelli, shortstop Anthony Scotti and Navetta—recorded RBI.

Mercer Island’s runs came in the fifth on an RBI double by second baseman Michael Bantle and a wild pitch in the sixth, but those runs came after Staten Island had built a 10-0 edge.

“You come here and you never know what’s going to happen,” Mercer Island manager Steve Stenberg said. “You’re facing the best teams from around the country. We know our back is against the wall.”

He also was quick to note that his kids wouldn’t dwell on the loss.

South Shore’s Pucciarelli finished 2-for-4 with a triple, home run and four RBI. Scotti and Michael Russell had a pair of hits. Mercer Island’s Michael Bantle finished with a single and a double, and Anthony Scalzo, Max Hibbert, Nick Taylor, Brandon Lawler and Mansfield accounted for the team’s other five hits, all of which were singles.

“A win is a win,” South Shore manager Michael Zaccariello said. “Maybe we took advantage of some mistakes they made and we capitalized on them, but it’s not going to happen like that every day.”

The start of the game was delayed 45 minutes because of a storm that passed through Williamsport around 1 p.m., the scheduled start time.

South Shore (1-0) will play Southeast Region champion Warner Robins American Little League (Ga.) (0-0) Saturday at 3 p.m. Mercer Island (0-1) takes on Urbandale Little League (Iowa) at noon on Sunday.