By Rob Potter
LIBERTY A quick start made all the difference for the Red Hook Raiders on Saturday.
The Raiders took a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning against the host Liberty Indians in a Section IX Class B baseball quarterfinal game.
No. 5 seed Red Hook added to its advantage as the game progressed and recorded a 12-2 victory over the fourth-seeded Indians.
Red Hook (13-6) will face No. 1 seed Pine Plains in today’s semifinals. Liberty ended its season with a 16-8 record.
After Raiders’ clean-up batter Greg Search gave his team that 3-0 advantage with a two-run homer over the center field fence, the Indians answered with a run in the bottom of the first. Evan Kirsch hit a two-out single, stole second base and scored on a base hit by Justen Mills.
The Raiders added a pair of runs in the top of the second inning to take a 5-1 lead.
With two outs in the bottom of the second, the umpires halted the game and sent the teams to their respective dugouts due to rumbles of thunder and a heavy rain shower. The game resumed after a 35-minute delay.
The Indians narrowed the Red Hook lead to 5-2 in the bottom of the third. Justen Mills drew a two-out walk, stole second base and crossed home plate when teammate Trevor Tompkins singled up the middle.
But the Raiders scored four runs in the top of the sixth inning and added three in the top of the seventh to take a 10-run advantage.
The key hit in the sixth was a two-run single by Dylan Orlich.
Dennis Cohen earned the win for the Raiders. He pitched four innings, striking out eight and giving up five hits.
Red Hook Coach Ron Coon praised Cohen’s work on the mound and noted that Cohen had to leave the game early so he could attend his sister’s wedding later that afternoon.
Coon said that scoring three runs in its first opportunity at the plate helped his young team.
“It’s always good to get an early lead in a sectional game,” Coon said. “It helps the players not get too nervous.
“We had four ninth-graders and three 10th-graders who started for us today,” Coon added. “Greg Search, one of our 10th graders, batted fourth and did a great job.”
Liberty Coach John Wilhelm said that Red Hook “hit the ball well today.
“We just didn’t get the hits when we needed them,” he said.
Wilhelm noted that the Indians, who will be losing five starters Michael Dunnigan, Justin Katz, Mills, Abi Rubio and Tompkins to graduation later this month, had a positive season overall.
“It’s just a great group of kids,” he said. “They worked hard and we had a great year. There are no regrets.”