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Ludden wins B-2 baseball title again

As the sun set on Memorial Day at Rome's DeLutis Field, the Bishop Ludden baseball team again found itself playing for a championship.

In this case, it was the Gaelic Knights matching up against Canastota in the Section III Class B-2 final, a rematch of the 2006 title clash at Alliance Bank Stadium.

And the result would be just the same. The final turned into Ryan Poplawski's show, as the left-hander starred both on the mound and at the plate to help the Gaelic Knights beat the Canastota Raiders 3-2 and repeat as B-2 champions.

This sets up a neighborhood duel for the Class B championship Thursday at 4:30, back at DeLutis Field, between Ludden and Westhill, who took the Class B-1 title earlier on Monday with a 7-3 win over Marcellus.

It didn't take long for Poplawski to take over against the Raiders. After striking out two Canastota hitters in the top of the first inning, he led off the bottom of the first -- and drilled the first pitch from James Lesher well over the left-field fence for a home run.

With the score still 1-0 in the bottom of the third, Poplawski came back to the plate after Mike Solan drew a one-out walk. Perhaps as retaliation, Lesher threw inside at Poplawski -- who answered on the next pitch with a single to left field.

After stealing second, Poplawski and Solan came home on John Rooney's perfectly placed single to right field, extending Ludden's lead to 3-0.

Those runs proved to be important. By the top of the seventh, Poplawski had struck out 12 and allowed just two hits, but it nearly fell apart.

Mike Hibbard led off the Raiders' seventh inning with a double, after which Lesher reached on an infield hit. Pinch-hitter Jon Sicilia hit an RBI groundout, making it 3-1, and Matt Ghezzi followed with a single to put the tying run on base.

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