One thing is certain -- the Bishop Ludden baseball team will not win a third consecutive Section III Class B championship.
That's because the Gaelic Knights, due perhaps to having too much success, have been pushed up to the Class A ranks and will compete in the OHSL Freedom division this spring.
Proving that it just might be up to the challenge, Ludden began 2008 by going to West Genesee last Saturday and beating the Wildcats 4-1 in eight innings.
Of course, WG has seen its own program rise in stature, too. A season ago, it went 16-6, going all the way to the Class AA title game before getting nipped at the wire by eventual state champion Utica Proctor.
From that team, six seniors departed, including pitching ace Casey McIntosh, plus stars like Brent Finizio, Casey Reale and Brent Hagen. However, the presence of many new faces from a JV Wildcats team that went 22-0 last spring should keep things humming.
In the opener, Ludden ace Ryan Poplawski opposed WG's Steve Menges, and a quick run in the first inning put the Gaelic Knights in front, 1-0.
Poplawski, keeping his work limited, did not allow a hit in five innings of work before turning it over to John Rooney in relief. Menges settled down, too, blanking Ludden before Adam Bishop relieved him.
It stayed 1-0 until the bottom of the seventh, when WG tagged Rooney for the tying run but could not win it, sending the game into extra frames.
There, the Gaelic Knights won it by scoring three times off Bishop in the top of the eighth, Poplawski driving Rooney home with the go-ahead run. By getting the Wildcats out in the bottom of the eighth, Rooney got credit for the win.
Ludden is home Monday to meet Fowler, then visits Fulton Thursday and plays Mexico on Friday. WG begins its CNY Counties League Monday against Oswego and has trips to Corcoran and Central Square before a Friday meeting with Nottingham.