Huertas’ home run advances Patriots
It was the highlight shot of Alec Huertas’ career and one that kept Freedom’s postseason alive.
Huertas blasted a three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning of Monday’s District 11 6A opener to help push Freedom past Nazareth 5-3.
Trailing 3-2 heading into their final frame, things played out perfectly for the seventh-seeded Pates (13-9), as Jonah Mateo led off with a double, followed by Griffin Connelly’s bunt that moved Mateo to third and allowed Connelly to safely reach first.
The final blow for Nazareth (8-13) came when Huertas came to the plate and hammered a curve ball over the left field fence over Kyle Mahady for a dazzling walk-off victory.
“I just sat on my pitch and it worked,” said Huertas. “It was an 0-1 count and he threw a curve already and I assumed I’d see a fastball, but I got another curve and I hit my hands back and drilled it.”
The flurry of excitement quickly moves to preparation for today’s quarterfinal round against second-seeded Easton.
The Rovers (19-3) are coming off an 8-0 defeat to Parkland in the EPC championship last week and face a challenge with their third matchup with Freedom this season.
Freedom won the first encounter this season 4-1, while Easton got the upper hand in the divisional rematch early this month with a 3-1 win.
Head coach Nick D’Amico hopes that some of Monday’s momentum can carry over into Wednesday’s affair.
“I mean Easton is an excellent team and they’re tough,” said D’Amico. “I feel like we can play with anybody, but we need to execute if we want to have a chance.”
Huertas is certainly primed to start on the mound after splitting contests against the Rovers this season.
“We’re pretty confident heading to Easton,” Huertas said. “Pitching against them twice this year should help me. We’re definitely going into this next round confident we can win.”
Bethlehem Catholic (8-13) saw their season end on Monday with an 8-5 defeat to Central Catholic in the 4A quarterfinals.
Liberty (16-4) kicks off their district title defense on Wednesday with a home game against Stroudsburg (14-6) in a four-five matchup. The ’Canes won their only encounter with the Mounties this season 14-1, but head coach Andy Pitsilos knows things won’t be that easy this time around.
“Stroudsburg is always a tough team,” Pitsilos said. “We beat them the first time this season, but we didn’t see their number one pitcher. We’ve been trying to get as much live hitting in as possible in our time off, so hopefully we’ll be ready to go.”