The resurrection of Freeport baseball spearheaded six years ago by head coach Roberto Delgado took another big step this spring.
The Red Devils, who went winless from 2009 to 2011 before Delgado took over, achieved eight wins in a challenging Conference AA-1 and reached the playoffs for a fourth straight year. The regular season strides then continued in the postseason with Freeport reached the quarterfinal round for the first time in nearly 40 years after knocking off seventh-seeded Herricks in 10-0 first round victory on May 14.
“It was a great accomplishment,” said Delgado, who played five years professionally in the San Francisco Giants minor league system. “I couldn’t be more proud.”
The 10th-seeded Red Devils jumped out to a big lead against Herricks with eight runs in the third inning. The explosive offense was paced by RBIs from Daniel Garcia, Roberto Lizardo, and Anthony Lamar to provide plenty of run support for starting pitcher Braylin Marine. The senior ace, who led a pitching staff that also featured Ronny Vicente and Elvin Fragoso, tossed a two-hitter with seven strikeouts in six scoreless innings.
“We played very good defensively with some great hitting,” said Delgado of the Herricks win. “We put it all together.”
The win advanced Freeport to a best-of-three quarterfinal series against top-seeded Oceanside. Freeport responded from a 14-0 opening game loss to battle the Sailors tough in game two before ultimately falling 7-2. The Red Devils, who were playing their first home playoff game as a program in four decades, only trailed 3-2 in the fifth inning against a longtime county power.
“I love competing against the best,” Delgado said. “We are in one of the top conferences on Long Island and we battled.”
The Red Devils had a three-day layoff between games one and two because of rainy weather. Delgado took the team to the batting cages to keep the team fresh and he was impressed with how the players responded after a blowout defeat.
“We regrouped and fought,” he said. “We kept the game interesting.”
Marine and Lamar had big senior years at the plate and in the field to earn All Conference honors. The duo, which played an integral role in Freeport’s resurgence as a program, will next take their talent to the collegiate level with Marine headed to Newberry College in South Carolina and Lamar off to Hartford Community College in Maryland.
“All the kids look up to them as role models,” Delgado said. “They have been awesome.”
The new winning culture in Freeport has also extended to the classroom with Delgado’s strong emphasis on academics producing a 100% graduation rate. Delgado organizes team study hall and constantly checks report cards to assure his players are hitting the books. He stressed the kids’ strong commitment to their studies makes them better baseball players since it creates discipline.
“Our program has been taking care of business in the classroom,” he said. “That success is reflected on the field.”