Leave it to the East Syracuse-Minoa baseball team to have the honor of welcoming Bishop Ludden into the OHSL Freedom division.
Of course, in the Spartans' case a 'welcome' meant going to the Gaelic Knights' home field in Geddes Thursday afternoon and beating them 8-3 - which was significant because, in the 2010 regular season (when it was still in the OHSL Liberty division), Ludden was undefeated.
ESM did not waste time roughing up Gaelic Knights pitcher James Murray. The Spartans scored twice in the second inning, then erupted for five runs in the top of the third to build a 7-0 edge and take Murray out.
Mike Para, Casey Sullivan and Matt LeGro each posted a pair of RBIs. All told, the Spartans had 11 hits, three of them from Para, as Sullivan (the only player to score two runs) and Jeremy Fletcher managed two hits apiece.
Meanwhile, Joe Greco pitched and, for four innings, effectively shut down Ludden's potent offense, only allowing one hit and striking out five to get the win. Fletcher and Steve Brownell were effective in relief, too.
Jamesville-DeWitt also had an impressive league win on Thursday, going to Chittenango and taking over in the late stages to beat the Bears 15-5.
Tied 3-3 through two innings, the Red Rams went ahead with a pair of runs in the top of the third. Then it got decided when J-D exploded for five runs in the fifth and four more runs in the sixth on its way to 15 hits for the afternoon.
Mason Schoeneck, in particular, hurt the Bears, getting four hits that included a double and home run as he scored three runs and piled up a career-best six RBIs.
In support, Justin Marzella and Chris Lenish both drove in two runs, while Marzella and Eric Thompson each got three hits. Thompson and Tyler Kirwan scored three runs apiece.
Bishop Grimes opened Thursday with a 6-4 loss to Pulaski. It was tied, 3-3, when the Blue Devils went ahead for good with three total runs in the fifth and sixth innings. David Campese took the loss as Casey Schad got a pair of RBIs. Zac Cousineau and Mike Timpano drove in one run apiece.