As much as the Eastport South Manor baseball team’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, averaging close to eight runs per game.
On Wednesday, 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 1-0 upset victory over the second-seeded Sharks.
Glenn advances to the next round on Friday and will play at Sayville, the fourth seed, after the Golden Flashes defeated sixth-seeded Shoreham/Wading River, 4-1, on Wednesday. ESM falls to the loser’s bracket in the double-elimination playoffs and will host Shoreham on Friday at 4 p.m.
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, then got the next batter, Mike Mannix, to pop out in foul territory with 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 on Wednesday. In the bottom of the fifth inning and one out, Flynn bunted a single down the third base line. After numerous tries of picking 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 now in the inning, Groark got Brandon Martins to strike out, stranding Flynn on second base.
In the bottom of the sixth, Andrew 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 shut out with six strikeouts and one walk. He only allowed three base hits. Mike Burkhardt had the Sharks first hit of the game on a lazy fly ball to center field in the bottom of the third.