Saddled with the role of pre-season favorite in the Section III Class AA ranks, the Cicero-North Syracuse baseball team might find, through the next two months, that it can live up to those expectations.
For now, though, the Northstars can just bask in a satisfying season-opening win, as it took charge in the middle of Saturday afternoon's season opener against Baldwinsville and went on to earn a 9-3 victory over the Bees at Gillette Field.
As a first test, it appeared to be a stiff one. B'ville, like CNS, brought a host of talented players back from 2010 and, in its opener the day before, had pounded out plenty of runs in a 15-5 romp over Mexico.
Sure enough, the Northstars trailed, 2-0, going to the bottom of the third inning, only to move ahead for good when it put together a three-run rally. To back that up, CNS got four more runs in the fourth to make it 7-2, and never got caught.
Brian Hamilton hit a solo home run and scored twice. Jack Hotaling pounded out three of the Northstars' eight hits, earning a pair of RBIs as Matt Dykeman and Corey Burrows also scored two runs. Riley Moonan and Eric Hamilton drove in runs, too.
CNS, whose main strength might be a deep and versatile pitching rotation, saw Kyano Cummings work five innings for the win, giving just two hits while striking out five. Dan Brower had a solid two-inning relief stint.
As this went on, the CNS softball team, bent on returning to the state championship game that it lost a season ago, also opened with a victory in Saturday's warm sunshine, beating Horseheads by the same 9-3 margin that the baseball team used to conquer B'ville.
By far, the biggest off-season development for softball was the move of the pitcher's circle three feet back, from 30 to 33 feet. It could give the hitter a bit more time to see the ball - or give a top pitcher more time to give it some action.