MILFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Eleven teen-agers arrested for stealing a home plate marker from a park said they planned to bring the plate to the grave of a classmate who died after being hit in the head with a baseball.

The teen-agers were arrested Saturday, on what would have been Peter Butanowicz's 16th birthday. Butanowicz died May 22, two days after being struck by a baseball hit by a coach during practice at Foran High School.

The teen-agers said they decided to dig up the 50-pound concrete home plate at Conklin Field after talking about their friend's death at a party.

''A lot of people at the party were talking about it being Pete's birthday,'' said Fort Surace, a senior at Foran. ''Everyone was dwelling on it, and it just made you feel worse. We really knew what we were doing was wrong and stuff, even though the reason we did it wasn't bad. I know that I did it because of Pete, not because we had nothing else to do.''

Butanowicz's mother, Marilyn, said she does not condone the youths' illegal methods, but was touched by their actions.

''They're only teen-agers. I wish they had gone through the proper channels, but it was a nice gesture,'' she said.

Police stopped the teen-agers as they were driving away from the park. The home plate never made it to Butanowicz's grave, but the grave was covered with pumpkins, stuffed animals, balloons and baseball memorabilia by friends and relatives.

All 11 teen-agers were charged with larceny and conspiracy to commit larceny. They were released on promises to appear in Milford Superior Court Nov. 5.