It was shortly after his third trip around the bases that it all sank in for Rocky Point slugger Joey Grillo. As he stood at his post in centerfield on April 5, Grillo said he couldn’t help thinking, “Wow! I hit three home runs!”
Wow, indeed. Grillo, a 6-foot, 164-pound senior who bats lefthanded, put three over the fence in the Eagles’ doubleheader sweep of Hauppauge.
In the opener, Grillo drilled a line drive just over the fence down the rightfield line. “I wasn’t sure it was out,” he said of a solo shot that wasn’t essential to Rocky Point’s 11-0 win.
In the second game, however, both of his homers were critical. He hit a two-run blast far over the fence in right-center to cut Rocky Point’s deficit to 4-3 in the bottom of the third. “That was a bomb. No doubt about it,” Grillo said. In the next inning, he provided the winning runs in an eventual 7-4 victory with a grand slam that cleared the fence down the rightfield line. He also had a double.
That rare three-homer day earned Grillo Newsday’s Athlete of the Week honors. “They were just throwing me a bunch of fastballs right down the middle,” he said. “It’s my first time hitting more than one homer in a game. I have videos with people in the background talking about it. It was pretty cool.”
Cool also describes Grillo’s approach at the plate. “He doesn’t feel pressure, so I really wasn’t that surprised,” Rocky Point coach Andrew Aschettino said. “He’s a three-year starter who’s gotten better and better. We knew this year he’d have more of a leadership role on a young team, and he has risen to that expectation.”
Aschettino said Grillo’s greatest attribute is “those lightning hands. The key — and it was a concern from the coaches — was him not trying to do too much. He’s having great at-bats, taking what the pitchers give him and spraying the ball all over.”
Hauppauge had won the opener of its series against Rocky Point, 2-0, but Grillo’s coach sensed something different was about to unfold in the doubleheader. “He just had that locked-in look,” Aschettino said. “It was like, ‘Jump on my back and let’s ride this out.’ Every time he stepped into the batter’s box, you felt like something good was going to happen.”
The good feeling continued in the Eagles’ next game, Monday against Westhampton, when Grillo went 4-for-6 with three doubles in a 13-4 victory that improved the team to 5-2 in Suffolk VI. They are currently 7-2.
“I’ve been working at it. I knew I was able to do it. It was only a matter of time,” said Grillo, who has signed to play at Division II Bridgeport next year. “I’m not surprised.”