In a five-day span, the Cicero-North Syracuse baseball team had to deal with two of the overwhelming Class AA favorites, who both paid a visit to Gillette Field.
And in the latter of these encounters, the Northstars made a big statement, using a fourth-inning outburst as the foundation for a 13-6 victory over Utica Proctor.
All the Raiders have done is win the last two Section III Class AA titles, plus a state crown in 2007, so any win against them would be special.
Yet it was the way CNS pulled it off that had to be satisfying. Proctor scored twice in the first inning, only to have the Northstars tag Proctor pitcher Ryan Donovan by scoring four times in the bottom of the first.
Proctor answered with a four-run second inning and regained the lead, 6-4, knocking pitcher Grant Nadeau from the game. However, Steve Salamone came in and shut down the Raiders over the last five innings.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Northstars made its big move, batting around and taking advantage of some Proctor defensive mistakes to post nine runs.
Amid it all, Salamone supported his own cause with four RBIs, while Aaron Hildreth doubled twice and drove in three runs. John Howell had a double and two RBIs, with Riley Moonan, Rob Quinn, Matt West and Kevan Smith also driving in runs.
To start its week, the Northstars tried to slow down Auburn last Tuesday afternoon. Despite a late push, CNS fell to the Maroons 6-3.
At 4-1 entering the game (its only loss coming to New Hartford), Auburn scored a pair of third-inning runs off Robert Rinaud, and held on for a while as pitching ace Steve Komanecky mowed down Northstar hitters.
However, CNS stayed within sight, with a run in the fifth and two more runs in the bottom of the sixth. Both times, the Northstars closed within a round -- and both times, Auburn used two-run rallies to reclaim control.
Rinaud, who got relief help form T.J. Jaquay and Salamone, took the loss. Salamone and Matt West both hit solo home runs, with Fred West also getting an RBI. Ed Charles and Brian Brazee both smacked home runs on Auburn's behalf.
Weather kept the Northstars from playing at Baldwinsville on Thursday -- but the Proctor win picked up everyone's spirits in advance of games this week against Rome Free Academy, Fayetteville-Manlius, Corcoran and Henninger.