On a sunny Saturday afternoon that felt closer to May than to March, the Bishop Ludden and West Genesee baseball teams kicked off the local season on the diamonds with a terrific battle.
And it turned on the potent bat of Chris Davis and strong right arm of Matt Pirro, both of whom helped the Gaelic Knights rally past the Wildcats 4-3 in Camillus.
All afternoon long, the lead switched hands. WG struck first in the bottom of the second inning, going up 1-0 on Kevin Petrick's two-out RBI single off Ludden pitcher John Rooney.
Answering quickly, Ludden went in front 2-1 in the top of the third, Rooney tying it with his own run-scoring single, then Mike DeMaio hitting a bloop single just inside the right-field line to bring home the go-ahead run.
WG got to Rooney in the bottom of the third, going back in frong 3-2 as the team's top two hitters in the order, Dan Connor and Jake Fietkiewicz, both drove in runs.
Pirro came in to replace Rooney in the bottom of the fourth and retired the first seven hitters he faced, giving Ludden all kinds of time to come back again.
In the top of the fifth, Davis, the Gaelic Knights' powerful cleanup hitter, began to make his impact. After Rooney doubled with two out, Davis brought him home with a single to tie the game, 3-3, and hoped for a chance to hit again.
That came with two out in the top of the seventh. Petrick had replaced WG starter Eric Spencer in the top of the sixth and was clean until he got cautious with Rooney and walked him.
Up stepped Davis, who watched Rooney steal second, then reach third on a passed ball. Davis then boomed a drive to the base of the wall in right-center field, allowing Rooney to trot home with the go-ahead run.
Meanwhile, Pirro stranded two runners in the bottom of the sixth and, in the seventh, forced a groundout with the tying run on second base to end it. Pirro had pitched four shutout innings and earned the victory.