Kids shout 'Play ball!' to kick off the 2019 Riverhead Little League season . Photo: Courtney Blasl

Cloudy skies and occasional rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of Riverhead Little League players, coaches and fans today as the league celebrated the official start of its 2019 season with ceremonies at Stotzky Park this morning.

The league today honored their 11- and 12-year-old Section 4 East and District 36 champions in the 2018 Little League World Series: Luke Bahnke, Aidan Cahill, Noah Dufour, Forest Kaplin, Michael Mowdy, David Raynor, Camden Wallace, Daniel Buday, Korey (KJ) Duff, Mark Gajowski, Ronan Levesque, Viateur (Luke) Pilon, Connor Saville and Thomas Williams.

The championship team, managed by Michael Mowdy and coached by John Saville and Brian Raynor, was undefeated.

“We’ve had the pleasure of watching a core of this team play in the championships for the past four years,” Savio said. “In 2016 they won the district championship. In 2017 they lost in the district championship game. In 2018, they won the Section 4 East,” Savio said.

“There are over 400 teams in New York, our team was one of the last eight. When you think about it, that’s pretty good for a small league on the East End of Long Island,” Savio said.

Also honored today were Brian and Marie Buday, who served several years on the Riverhead Little League board; coach Mike Mowdy; and coach Steve McKay.

In his opening remarks, league president Jeremy Savio spoke of how Riverhead Little League exemplifies community.

“When you come down to Stotzky Park and play Little League, you’re playing with your community,” Savio said. “You can go to Field 6 on the T-ball field…or Field 3 where the majors play, and you run into people that you know,” he said.

“We have over 300 kids on the field, age 4 to 13, and they all have one thing in common, they all have ‘Riverhead’ on the front of their shirts. You’re not going to get that anywhere else,” he said. “We’re a community.”

Savio thanked the parks department grounds crew for keeping the fields in tip-top shape and having them ready to play this morning despite inclement weather conditions this week.

Members of the 2018 championship 11/12 team threw out the first baseball pitches.

Riverhead High School varsity softball player and Riverhead Little League alumni Brooke McKay threw out the first softball pitch.

At the conclusion of the ceremonies, Savio told the kids, coaches and guests there was just one thing left to do.

“On the count of three!” he said. “One-two-three!”

Hundreds of exuberant young voices shouted out in unison: “Play ball!”

RiverheadLOCAL photos by Courtney Blasl

Correction: Brooke McKay’s given name was misstated in a previously published version of this article.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.