Regardless of the opponent, or regardless of the situation, the Cicero-North Syracuse baseball team has answered each challenge thrown at them.
None was more acute, or more important, than Monday's battle with bitter rival Liverpool, with an undefeated regular season on the line.
And just when it looked like fortune would finally turn against the Northstars, it made a stirring rally and, by a score of 4-3, improved to 17-0 in one of the season's most riveting games.
Each side put their ace on the mound. CNS had Pat Corbin, while Liverpool countered with Aaron Schuldt.
For three innings, neither side would score. CNS thwarted Liverpool's first chance to get ahead in the first inning when, with one out, third baseman Joe Ilacqua threw out Ross Langevin trying to go home on Dom Caruso's grounder.
In the top of the fourth, Dave Kernan beat out an infield hit, then went to second on a wild pitch. Patrick O'Brien then singled up the middle, and Kernan slid into home to beat Langevin's throw from center field.
The Northstars led 1-0 -- but not for long.
Greg Blankenship led off the bottom of the fourth with a double, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt, and scored the tying run on a single by John DesLauriers.
After Dan LaDuke singled with two out, no. 9 hitter Colin Cerniglia put a charge into the home crowd, lifting a triple to the right-centerfield gap, bringing home two runs and putting Liverpool in front, 3-1.
With two out in the top of the sixth, CNS still trailed by two, finding itself four outs from its first defeat of the season. Then the Northstars' late-game magic struck again.
Schuldt got wild at just the wrong time, allowing O'Brien and Shawn Moonan to draw walks. Joe Shepard drove O'Brien home with a single, and Moonan went to third. Moments later, Schuldt unleashed another wild pitch, and Moonan raced home with the tying run.