Freeport showed its potential last week to compete with the top teams in Nassau County during its series with first place Oceanside.
The Red Devils closed their three-game set with a 3-2 win against previously unbeaten Oceanside on April 18 two days after nearly knocking off the Sailors in a 7-6 heartbreaker. Going toe-to-toe with a perennial county championship contender while grabbing one victory puts Freeport at 2-4 in Conference AA-1 heading into a critical part of the schedule that will determine if seventh-year head coach Roberto Delgado can bring the program to a fifth straight playoff appearance.
“We are hanging in there with the top teams,” said Delgado, whose team also handed Syosset its lone league loss the previous week. “I feel good about this team.”
Junior pitcher Ronny Vicente powered Freeport to a victory in the series finale with a three-run home run in the bottom of the fourth inning when the Red Devils were trailing 2-0. Vicente also helped keep the Oceanside bats in check allowing two runs in seven innings on four hits with seven strikeouts.
The dramatic win came a day after a 14-4 loss in which Oceanside broke open a close game late with seven runs in the seventh inning. Freeport carried a 6-4 lead into the bottom of the seventh in game one of the series Tuesday before Oceanside rallied for three runs to sneak out a win. Senior Roberto Lizardo delivered two RBIs to position Freeport for the upset victory.
“When you play that well against a team like that you feel good about yourself,” said Delgado of the Oceanside series. “Now my players believe they can win.”
Freeport also gained confidence after defeating Syosset 5-2 on April 11 for the team’s first league win. Senior Elvin Fragoso shined on the mound allowing just one earned run in seven innings of work with five strikeouts and also excelled at the plate by driving in two runs.
Delgado said his infield defense has been solid early in the season allowing very few errors. The unit includes Nelson Lozano at second base, Fragoso at shortstop and Lizardo at third base with Randy Rodriguez also stepping in as a utility infielder when needed.
The Red Devils will look to continue the momentum from the Oceanside victory in their three-game series against Farmingdale this week that concludes with a road game Thursday at 4:15 p.m. Freeport will then conclude the regular season with a series versus Hempstead and conclude with three games against Massapequa that wraps up on May 9.
In order for Freeport make a return to postseason play and build off last year’s run to the quarterfinals the Red Devils will need to finish among the top four in Conference AA-1. Delgado, who guided Freeport to the program’s first quarterfinal round appearance in nearly 40 years last spring, said manufacturing runs on offense will be crucial in achieving another postseason run.
“We need to play the small game,” Delgado said. “We need to be able to get it done when I give the sign.”