Based mostly on pitcher Joe Riley's continual ability to escape trouble, the Liverpool baseball team returned to good form Monday afternoon, beating two-time defending Class AA champion Utica Proctor 2-1.
The Warriors were coming off a week where it had lost to both Auburn and Rome Free Academy. Worse yet, it had to face Proctor's pitching ace, Steve Sarcone, who sported a 5-0 record this spring.
Yet it was Riley that would shine on this day, helped in the first inning when catcher Tom Everson threw out Devin Warmack trying to steal second base. Riley then retired the next five batters he faced.
Sarcone proved wild in the bottom of the first, walking three straight batters with one out. Pat Brown then scored on Shawn Peake's fielder's choice.
Riley then made his first big escape, loading the bases with two out in the top of the third before striking out Proctor's cleanup hitter, Vin Gaetano. David Piraino's two-out RBI double in the bottom of that frame made it 2-0.
Proctor used two hits and Riley's throwing error on a sacrifice bunt in the top of the fourth to get on the board. However, Riley coaxed a force play and a 5-4-3 double play to prevent any further scoring.
Sarcone would settle down, but Proctor could not tie it. It put two runners on base in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. Every time, Riley kept them off the board with a flyout in the fifth, a strikeout of Warmack in the sixth and Ryan Donovan's popout in the seventh to end it.
The good feelings lasted approximately 24 hours -- for when the Warriors took to the same field on Tuesday afternoon, it lost to neighbor and rival Cicero-North Syracuse 7-3.
In this game, made up from a May 2 rainout, they traded first-inning runs, only to have the Northstars strike for single runs in the fifth and sixth innings off Liverpool starter Vince Valentino.