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Freeport baseball completes journey from 0-19 to playoffs

Freeport's Christopher Cruceta delivers to the plate in

Freeport's Christopher Cruceta delivers to the plate in the top of the third inning against Uniondale on Wednesday, May 11, 2016. Credit: James Escher

After the final out and ensuing dogpile, Kevin Trujillo emerged on the infield grass. He took a knee. Then, with a game ball in his hand as an offering, he asked Katherine Sanchez to prom.

She said yes. On a day like this, how could his friend say no?

“That’s exactly why I decided to do it,” Trujillo said. “What better day to do it than on the field, where anything is possible?”

Freeport has tapped the optimism behind those last three words all season. One year after losing each of their 19 games, the Red Devils are heading to the playoffs. They locked up their first berth in 13 years with a 17-4 Nassau AA-I victory over Uniondale on Wednesday at Cleveland Avenue Field.

“It’s something new,” said senior Antonio Diaz, who went 4-for-5 with three doubles and six RBIs.

The Red Devils don’t have a sterling record. They are 8-9-1 overall and 6-7-1 in conference, but that does not seem to matter to the players, coaches and fans, who showed up in force and stayed to celebrate after the final out.

Said Trujillo, “We’ve gotten so much love and support from everybody in our community.”

That includes their coach. In his fourth year, Roberto Delgado has seen the roster grow each season. He said he had only 10 eligible players four years ago. This team’s roster has 23, and the JV, he said, has 22.

Delgado breathed life into the program with his demanding workouts — the Red Devils ran three times a week at 6 a.m. in January — his baseball acumen and fun, relatable personality, the players said.

“Besides baseball, we share, we talk, we order food,” Delgado said. “We do it together as a team. That translates to the field.”

Even if they have not dominated, the Red Devils have been tough to beat. In three losses to second-place Massapequa, they were tied in the sixth inning. First-place Oceanside had to settle for a 4-4 tie in the series opener.

Between them, Massapequa and Oceanside have lost only six times all year. But Freeport feels it can beat them, or anyone, in the playoffs. “We know we’re up to that caliber,” Justin Lake said.

Added Diaz: “We competed with the best teams on Long Island, so we’re the underdog, but we’re confident.”

In other words, anything is possible.

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