Twice before this spring, the Bishop Ludden baseball team seemed to have the Westhill Warriors figured out -- until a big inning tipped the scales in the Warriors' favor.
But not a third time. And not with a Section III Class B championship on the line.
A trio of front-line Gaelic Knights pitchers combined to keep Westhill's potent lineup in check last Thursday at Rome's DeLutis Field, leading to a 2-1 Ludden victory.
This made it back-to-back sectional titles for Ludden, and the second championship was even sweeter than the first, for it came at the expense of their closest neighbor and biggest league rival.
And it capped a month of big meetings between the two schools. On May 1, Westhill used a two-out, six-run rally in the fifth inning to back up Mike DeCarr's one-hitter and beat Ludden 6-1. Two weeks later, the Warriors prevailed again, 5-2, this time going out in front early, 4-0, and again riding DeCarr's strong right arm to victory.
Yet for this third, and most important, showdown between the Warriors and Gaelic Knights, DeCarr would not be pitching, since he had gone six innings to beat Marcellus in the Class B-1 final three days earlier.
Instead, left-hander Tom Piscitell would oppose Ludden's senior ace, Terry McFadden, who had pitched the second game against the Warriors and was a proven big-game ace.
Immediately, McFadden got into trouble. Mike Mascari led off the bottom of the first inning with a walk, and Rich Hevier walked, too. A wild pitch put both runners in scoring position with one out.
Gambling a bit, Ludden intentionally walked slugger P.J. Niedzwiecki to load the bases. That gamble paid off when McFadden coaxed John Carbone to pop out, then struck out Piscitell to end the inning.
Fired up by this turn of events, Ludden would get both of its runs in the top of the second. McFadden and Michael Kogut both singled and, after McFadden stole third, Mike Sisson drove him home with another single.