Ryan Gili is all too familiar with losing loved ones.
In September 2009, he lost his mother, Terry, to a brain aneurysm. And just last week, the Eastport South Manor senior lost his grandfather, Robert Hartman, to cancer.
But his most recent personal loss did not stop the lefty hurler from taking the mound against Bellport on April 25, the day after his grandfather died, and tossing a complete game shutout. The Sharks won 2-0 behind Gili’s strong performance that ended with him striking out the side. He allowed just three hits and four walks, finishing with seven strikeouts on the day.
ESM head coach Todd Skala said Gili kept the loss of his grandfather to himself until after the game.
“It was impressive, it really was,” he said. “He’s a gamer. He wants the ball every day and he’ll do whatever it takes for the team to win.”
Gili was backed by a very good defense that helped preserve the shutout. Bellport had runners on first and third with one out in the third inning until the Sharks turned a 4-6-3 double play to get out of the jam. Then in the sixth, Bellport had the bases loaded with one out and Gili induced a hard ground ball to shortstop. Junior Mike Flynn flipped the ball to senior Anthony Annunziata at second base, who then threw on to first baseman Dalton McCarthy, another senior, to get out of the jam.
ESM (13-1 in League V) scored both of its runs in the fourth inning. Sophomore Mat Annunziata singled up the middle and then almost got picked off first base but kept running to second and wound up with a stolen base. After senior Mike Griffiths flied out to deep right field, senior Sean Doyle singled to drive in Annunziata with the game’s first run.
Junior Shark Niko Bedell followed with a base hit of his own to make it first and second with two outs. Then senior Ryan Malvin hit an opposite-field single to left, which scored Doyle to make it a 2-0 game.
On Thursday, April 26, ESM took the third and final game of the series at Bellport to complete the sweep of the Clippers.
After taking a 1-0 lead on an RBI single by McCarthy, which scored junior Andrew Karkota, the Sharks jumped out to 6-0 advantage with a five-run fifth inning. That offensive outburst was aided by back-to-back home runs by Mat Annunziata and Bedell. Annunziata hit a three-run shot, followed by Bedell’s solo blast.
ESM added two more runs in the sixth and another four runs in the seventh. Mat Annunziata finished 3 for 5 with a career high six RBIs. The sophomore is proving his freshman season was no fluke. He is batting .489 and leads the team with 20 RBIs. Annunziata was one of two freshmen in New York State last season to be named All-State.
McCarthy started on the hill for the Sharks and had a no-hitter going into the sixth inning until he gave up a lead-off double. He allowed just the one hit, walked six batters but struck out nine in six innings of work.
Karkota finished the game 2 for 4 with three runs, a stolen base and an RBI. McCarthy was 2 for 4 with an RBI, and Flynn was 3 for 4 with two doubles, two RBIs and three runs.
Prior to battling ESM, the Clippers stood in third place in League V with an 8-3 record, so the Sharks were expecting a close series. ESM was still tied, as of Monday morning, with Kings Park for first place in the league with both squads sporting identical 13-1 records.
“We knew they were going to be tough,” Skala said of Bellport. “We just wanted to take it one game at a time and we were able to come away with the sweep. I was really happy with that.”
ESM started a series with Deer Park on Monday. Although the Falcons stood at 6-8, they handed Kings Park its only loss this season and will be fighting for a chance to make the playoffs this week. A series win for ESM would eliminate Deer Park from playoff contention. The Sharks take on Kings Park in their final regular season series next week.
ON THE SCHEDULE: Wednesday, 5/2, vs. Deer Park; Thursday, 5/3, at Deer Park, 4 p.m.; Monday, 5/7, vs. Kings Park, 4 p.m.