It was moments before first pitch on Tuesday when Freeport coach Roberto Delgado called his team into a huddle. He gave a quick inspirational talk to the players about wanting to see their effort in the game ahead against Oceanside. He concluded it by telling the Red Devils that on a beautiful day for baseball they should "have fun" and "go home dirty."
The Devils went home more than dirty. They went home elated winners. Freeport snapped its season-opening 10-game losing streak with a 9-2 Nassau Conference I victory over the host Sailors.
Righthnder Eddy Canela threw 4 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, Armando Pimentel had three RBIs, including a two-run double in the fourth inning that snapped a tie at 2. And Adrian Marine provided the back breaker in a five-run seventh when he squared to bunt, pulled back and launched a three-run homer to leftfield.
"I didn’t get a full swing at it, but I do have power," Marine said. "It feels good to finally come out on the winning side."
One thing Delgado did not speak of in the short pregame huddle was winning. That’s a heavy lift when a team is 0-10 and he doesn’t see it as the highest priority for the Red Devils.
"For us, success isn’t measured only by results on the field," he said. "Baseball is the carrot. It helps us to [emphasize] education and make sure everyone graduates. It helps us keep them from falling through the cracks. And by learning how to handle yourself in baseball, you learn how to handle yourself in the outside world."
That said, he pointed to massive celebration as Marine crossed home plate and said "that was great to see."
Asked about how the Devils have stayed optimistic and buoyant in spite of the losing streak, Canela replied "we love the game and we look forward to being on the field and we want to play, even if it’s a loss afterward — but it feels pretty good to win today."
Oceanside coach Mike Postilio said Freeport’s record was deceiving because "they are scrappy and aggressive, put pressure on your defense and force you to execute." The Devils (1-10) were able to turn a bunt single and a walk into two runs and a 2-0 lead in the second by stealing a pair of bases. Jarian Peralta’s put him in scoring position for Brian Rodriguez’ RBI single. Rodriguez’s generated a throwing error that allowed Darlyn Liberato to score.
The Sailors (3-8) evened the score in the third on a pair of bases-loaded walks and Canela was summoned into the game. He snuffed the rally and finished the game allowing two singles and striking out six.
Pimentel made Oceanside pay for allowing a pair of leadoff walks on his double over the rightfielder’s head for the 4-2 lead. "I was mad happy about having the lead, but you can’t be comfortable."
Marine’s homer followed a leadoff walk by Peralta and a single by Liberato.
"We’ve been in games and we’re better than the numbers say," Pimentel said, "but getting this win is a reward for all the work."