One of the best sporting events of the year kicks off in Williamsport, PA on Thursday as the Little League World Series begins. And the New York area will have a team to root for in the Mid-Island Little League team, who won the Mid-Atlantic Regional.
To get ready for their first game against the Midwest region at 3 p.m. today, here is a little background on how the Mid-Island All-Stars made it to this special tournament.
Gregory Bruno tosses a perfect game
It was literally the perfect way to close out their regional. Bruno, who has been Mid-Island's ace all season, threw a perfect game in six innings to lead his team to Williamsport.
Bruno has a fastball on the 46-foot mound that is equivalent to what you see in the Major Leagues when he ramps up his fastball. His heater averages 75 mph, but he did top out at 80 mph on occasion in that final.
"He's got speed pitches he hasn't even used yet," manager Joe Calabrese told The Post.
"The kid is the ultimate competitor."
This team seems unstoppable
It's natural to see some All-Star teams slip up during tournaments here and there, but Mid-Island has taken exception to that. They are 12-0 this season in "All-Star" play, while outscoring their opponents 138-16. Let that sink in a little bit...
In memory of John Calabrese Sr.
Throughout the stellar run, there has been some emotion piled on as well. Manager Joe Calabrese lost his brother, John, to a heart attack in 2014. And John's son, John Jr., plays on the Mid-Island squad.
To commemorate John, a patch has been worn on the team's jerseys all season long.
"I feel like my brother is there with us," Joe Calabrese said after the regional final. "He'd be so proud of his son, the way he played today, the way he carries himself. It's a surreal experience.
This isn't Mid-Island's first rodeo
Mid-Island has been a Little League powerhouse for quite some time, which means this isn't the first time the program made it to Williamsport. In 2006, they made it with Joe Calabrese's son on the team.
"It was the greatest experience he's ever had," Joe Calabrese said of his son's time at the Little League World Series. "This is something these kids will never, ever forget."
Back to school
All these kids -- and parents -- have known this summer is eat, sleep, and breathe baseball. But, whenever their ride in Williamsport ends, it's time to get their notebooks and pencils and head back to school.
So, these kids will want to stay in Williamsport as long as possible.