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ESM overpowers Connetquot in AA playoffs

Eastport's Joe Gonzalez (21) exhults as he rounds

Eastport's Joe Gonzalez (21) exhults as he rounds the bases in the bottom of the first as part of Dave Griffith's grand slam homer. (May 25, 2011) Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

The Eastport-South Manor baseball team continued its assault on Class AA. If you weren't sure just how good the Sharks were, then consider these numbers. In only their second year of AA competition, they have served notice that the youngest program in the classification is to be reckoned with.

The hitting barrage started early and never stopped as No. 5 Eastport-South Manor pounded out 17 hits and defeated No. 13 Connetquot, 17-7, in a Suffolk Class AA quarterfinal Wednesday in Eastport. The Sharks will host No. 16 Deer Park Friday at 4 p.m. in a Class AA semifinal.

"We got contributions from everyone in the lineup," Eastport South Manor first-year coach Todd Skala said. "We don't have the winning tradition of some of the bigger programs. But we're getting there."

The Sharks loaded the bases in the first inning before David Griffiths drilled a 3-and-1 pitch over the leftfield fence for a 4-0 lead. It was his third homer of the season.

"It was a fastball up in the zone and I knew I got it," Griffiths said. "My whole life I've been the unknown guy in the lineup. You hear about our other guys. But I'm OK with it as long as we win."

Connetquot (11-11) cut the lead in half with two runs in the top of the second. Brian McKean and Sam Huntington had back-to-back singles before Casey Baker had a run-scoring single and Justin Scala lifted a sacrifice fly to make it 4-2.

It was as close as it would get. Connetquot starter Ryan Lewis never found his rhythm as Eastport tacked on three runs in the second inning, keyed by Mat Annunziata's line-drive double off the rightfield fence for two RBIs and a 7-2 lead.

"He's been hitting like that all season," Skala said.

Eastport's Joe Palmeri (7-0) enjoyed the offensive explosion. He went an effective five innings and allowed six hits and three earned runs. He struck out six and walked one.

"He's been consistent for us all season," Skala said. "The last time we were in the playoffs was in 2007 in the Class A."

Palmeri exited with a 12-3 lead after Joe Gonzalez unloaded a long two-run home run in the fourth.

"I had good location and I used my slider for the first time today," Palmeri said. "And I felt like it was very effective."

Eastport leadoff hitter Ryan McCormick set the tone. He went 4-for-5, including a double, triple and three RBIs. He also scored two runs.

"Team first," Griffiths said. "It's all about winning."


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