Gili's three-hitter lifts ESM over Bellport
Eastport-South Manor's Ryan Gili pitched Wednesday with his teammates on his mind and his grandfather in his heart.
The senior lefty threw a three-hit shutout in a 2-0 Suffolk League V win at Bellport, just 24 hours after his grandfather died from cancer. Gili, though, kept the news to himself, not wanting to distract his teammates and coaches.
"I kept it quiet," Gili said. "I don't want them to get down and hear upsetting things. I just want my team to win and be thinking of baseball."
"Wow," ESM coach Todd Skala said when told of Gili pitching on an emotional day. "That's special for him, I'm sure. He had a great outing today."
Gili struck out the side to end the game and fanned seven batters total. He said he felt his performance would be special right from the start.
"I just knew my grandfather was above me and behind me, and I knew from the beginning I'd pitch well today," Gili said. "I felt good in the bullpen today, and on the bus. I felt him."
Gili's success did not come without help from the ESM defense. Shortstop Mike Flynn and second baseman Anthony Annunziata turned two inning-ending double plays, the second of which came with the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth that preserved the 2-0 lead.
"I just try to make the plays I have to make and those two plays were pretty clutch," Flynn said. "The second one was tough because there was an in-between hop but I just stayed with it and made the play."
ESM (12-1) scored its runs with two outs in the fourth. Sean Doyle's single drove in Mat Annunziata with the first run, and scored on Ryan Malvin's single that capped a four-hit inning.
Bellport (8-5) got a strong outing from Garrett Clark, who also pitched a complete game and allowed just two additional hits outside of the fourth inning.
Still the story was Gili, who used all four of his pitches -- fastball, changeup, curveball and slider -- to dominate Bellport's lineup despite the personal battle he was fighting throughout the game.
"[My grandfather] always gave me advice, taught me how to pitch, showed me pitches. He was here from the start with me and knew I was going to be a good pitcher," Gili said. "I throw for him, every time I go."