After scoring eight runs in its first playoff game, Eastport-South Manor scored eight runs combined in its next three games. That can happen in the postseason as you face better pitching, but the Sharks were getting hits without getting the key hits.
That all changed Saturday. Eastport-South Manor averaged 7.6 runs in the regular season and that potent offense came to life again. Third-seeded Eastport-South Manor had 16 hits and defeated No. 4 Smithtown East, 13-1, in a Suffolk Class AA elimination baseball game at Eastport-South Manor.
Eastport-South Manor (22-3) will play at No. 2 Half Hollow Hills West in a losers' bracket final at 4 p.m. Tuesday. Hills West defeated ESM, 2-1, on Thursday. The winner of that game will advance to the finals at top-seeded Connetquot on Wednesday. Connetquot has yet to lose in the double-elimination tournament. Smithtown East finished 19-6.
Andrew Karkota went 2-for-5 with two runs and three RBIs, Anthony Annunziata went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, Ryan Malvin went 3-for-3 with two runs and an RBI and Sean Doyle 2-for-3 with three runs, a homer and three RBIs for the Sharks.
Dalton McCarthy went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and Mike Griffiths went 2-for-4 as each Eastport-South Manor starter reached base.
"We were bound to explode," Doyle said. "We always have runners on base. We just couldn't get that two-out hit. We finally put it together."
Said Eastport-South Manor coach Todd Skala: "We hit the ball well against a really good pitcher. We have been getting hits, but we haven't got that two-out hit. We can hit the ball. We score a lot of runs typically. I knew they had it in them and they came with everything today."
Griffiths led off the second with a triple and scored on a single by Billy Goncalves. Following two strikeouts and an infield single by Malvin, the two-out run-scoring hits came. Karkota hit an RBI double and Annunziata hit a two-run double to cap a four-run inning.
"We weren't getting the big hit with runners in scoring position," Karkota said. "It's a big lift to get those hits in the second inning. We found spots perfectly."
That was plenty of run support for Ryan Gili. He pitched five innings and allowed one hit, no runs, walked three, and struck out four.
"It's a good feeling when you get all those runs," Gili said. "All I needed to do was throw strikes. We're hitting the ball hard. We were just hitting it at people. This time, they fell in."
The Sharks broke the game open in the fourth inning with eight runs and seven hits. Karkota and McCarthy each had two-run singles and Doyle hit a three-run homer.
"It's my last time playing here and I wanted to go out with a bang," Doyle said. "I said before the game it would be great to hit a home run."