Looking at the box score, it wouldn’t be obvious that perhaps the most pivotal moment of the game between the Eastport South Manor and Kings Park baseball teams on May 10 would be one that went against the winners.
With the Sharks holding a narrow 1-0 lead and Kingsman Brad Bisca leading off the inning, there was discussion, a stoppage in play and protest from ESM head coach Todd Skala about whether Bisca had been pitched three balls or four. In the end, the decision went against the Sharks, awarding the Kingsmen only their second base runner of the day.
Bisca would eventually come around to tie the score, with a run that was unearned, but that was the play ESM needed to put a spark in its step in an otherwise offensively unimpressive game. The Sharks scored four runs in their next turn at the plate to walk away with a 5-1 victory and their second straight League V championship.
Following that win, the Sharks finished out the regular season with a 4-2 victory over Kings Park in the regular season finale the following day and were awarded the third seed in the Class AA playoffs. ESM (18-2 in League V) was scheduled to face 14th seed West Babylon (12-8 in League IV) on May 16. Connetquot earned the top seed in the ‘AA’ playoffs with a 15-3 mark in League II play while Half Hollow Hills West went 17-3 in League IV for the second seed.
Regardless of the outcome of the first round game, both teams will stay alive with the winner and loser facing off against the winner and loser of the sixth seed Commack/11th seed Bay Shore game on May 17.
In the league-title-clinching game, the controversial call did seem to rattle the Sharks as the squad then allowed the Kingsmen to even things up at 1-1, but it didn’t last long.
“I think that got into our heads a little bit but we are a veteran team and we got past it,” senior Ryan Gili said of the call.
The Sharks wasted no time “getting past it” as Andrew Karkota led off the bottom of the fifth inning with a single and then scored the go-ahead run from first on a Anthony Annunziata double that eluded the diving Kings Park centerfielder.
ESM then loaded the bases when Dalton McCarthy reached on an error and Mat Annunziata was then intentionally walked.
With the bench yelling “take it as an insult,” Billy Goncalves followed and made Kings Park pay for the decision to skip Annunziata to get to him, crushing a two-run double to put his team up 4-1.
The Sharks brought the game to its final margin when Annunziata scored on a Mike Griffiths bunt.
“I don’t really know what I’m feeling right now,” Gili said with a laugh moments after recording the final out. “It’s so overwhelming, I’m just so happy. I think if we keep playing the way we did for the last five innings, we’re going to do even more.”
The Sharks scored their first run of the game thanks to a single from Ryan Malvin that plated Griffiths in the bottom of the second inning.
ESM senior pitcher Ryan Gili kept the Kingsmen’s bats in check, going the distance, allowing just two hits and one walk, the one that stirred so much controversy, and fanned seven.
ESM Finishes With Victory
The day after the Sharks clinched their league championship they added another victory, downing Kings Parks, 4-2, on the road to finish the season 18-2. Kings Park finished the regular season in second place in the league with a 15-5 record.
McCarthy led the offense, plating three of his team’s four runs on two hits, including a double. Karkota went three for four with three runs scored and a pair of stolen bases.