The Eastport South Manor baseball team defeated Shoreham/Wading River, 8-1, on Friday, in what was the first game in the loser’s bracket in the Suffolk County Class A playoffs.
The Sharks had lost their opening-round game of the double-elimination postseason tournament, 1-0, at home to seventh-seeded Elwood/John Glenn on May 15. Shoreham, the defending Class A champs, lost, 4-1, at Sayville on May 15 and was eliminated from the playoffs with the loss to the Sharks.
With Friday’s victory, second-seeded ESM was slated to play fourth-seeded Miller Place on Monday after the Panthers lost, 12-7, at top-seeded Bayport/Blue Point on Friday.
ESM got to Shoreham/Wading River starting pitcher Evan Kearney early on Friday. After having already scored a run in the first inning, the Sharks tacked on three runs in the second and four in the third.
Sharks starting pitcher John Maccio, who pitched the complete game, allowed an unearned run late in the game. He struck out seven in the victory and surrendered just three hits.
Andrew Karkota went 1 for 2 with two walks, a stolen base, three runs scored, and an RBI. Mat Annunziata went 3 for 4 with a double, a stolen base and two RBIs. And Mike Flynn went 2 for 2 with a triple, a stolen base, two runs scored and was hit by a pitch.
Sharks Shut Out By Glenn
As much as ESM’s pitching has done well this season, the team’s offense has held its own. The League VI champion Sharks scored 154 runs in 20 games this season, an average of close to eight runs per game.
On May 15, though, in the opening game of the Suffolk County Class A playoffs, ESM’s usual potent lineup was shut down by Elwood/John Glenn starting pitcher Jimmy Groark, who led the seventh-seeded Knights to a 1-0 upset victory over the second-seeded Sharks.
Glenn, which went 11-9 this season in League VII, scored the only run of the game in the top of the first inning. After an infield single by Ryan Fisenne, Jesse Matos doubled to deep right field to put runners on second and third base with one out. The next batter, Billy Riedel, hit a broken-bat ground out to ESM second baseman Mike Flynn, which brought in Fisenne from third for the run. ESM starting pitcher Steve Arnsten, who pitched well enough for a victory, got the next batter, Mike Mannix, to pop out in foul territory to strand Matos on third.
Groark then went to work on the mound. He located his fastball and kept ESM’s hitters off balance all game long with a nice curveball. He induced 13 fly ball outs throughout the game, 10 of which were made by infielders.
The Sharks left two runners in scoring position throughout the game. In the bottom of the fifth inning, with one out, Flynn bunted a single down the third base line. After numerous attempts to pick Flynn off first, Groark finally caught Flynn flat-footed, but he was somehow able to avoid being tagged out and was called safe. A few pitches later, Groark was called for a balk, and Flynn was awarded second base. But, with two outs in the inning, Groark got Brandon Martins to strike out, stranding Flynn on second base.
In the bottom of the sixth, Karkota singled through the left side of the infield and eventually reached second on another balk by Groark. Kory Cassara popped out in foul territory to give the Knights two outs. Glenn then decided to intentionally walk slugger Mat Annunziata—and it paid off. Mike Shine popped out to the third baseman, and Karkota was left on second base.
Groark pitched a complete-game shutout with six strikeouts and one walk. He allowed only three base hits. Mike Burkhardt had the Sharks’ first hit of the game in the bottom of the third.