Tragic circumstances made the Cicero-North Syracuse baseball team's key showdown against Fayetteville-Manlius last Wednesday at Gillette Field a bit less important.
The Hornets, still mourning the loss of two classmates in an April 30 car accident, could not keep the Northstars from its 10th consecutive victory, a 7-2 decision where CNS solved ace pitcher Cory Nelson enough times to come out in front.
They were supposed to play last Tuesday, but F-M postponed all activities after the deaths of seniors Joshua Davis and Kevin Goich Jr.
A day later, the Hornets paid tribute, scrawling the initials "JD" and "KG" on their caps and wristbands. Both teams observed a moment of silence before the game got underway.
Sophomore Clarke Nadeau got the pitching assignment for CNS, and immediately fell behind, 1-0, as Brian Klocko walked, stole second base and scored on Austin Straub's single.
CNS would respond by getting to Nelson quickly. In the bottom of the first, Greg Larioni led off with a double down the right-field line, then scored when Nelson's throw to third base off a Ryan Mahoney grounder went long.
Joe Ilacqua followed with an RBI single to score Mahoney, and after another single, Joe Shepard sent a base hit through the middle for another run, making it 3-1.
Nadeau proceeded to shut down F-M over the next four innings, keeping it in the strike zone and forcing the Hornets to swing early, causing grounders and fly balls.
Nelson would settle down and strike out 13 CNS hitters. But in the bottom of the fifth, Patrick O'Brien singled with two out, moved to second on a wild pitch, and raced home when Shawn Moonan singled.
F-M made its biggest move in the sixth inning. A leadoff walk and botched pickoff attempt led to Jordan Kurtz's RBI single, making it 4-2, and when Ed Quinn also singled, the Hornets had the tying runs on base with one out.
Here, Nadeau went out, replaced by Anthony Brauchle. Immediately, Brauchle coaxed Billy Donlin to ground into an inning-ending double play, and CNS, fired up, added three more runs in the bottom of the sixth, two coming home on O'Brien's triple.