May 12, 2012 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Alex Caruso worked with timely precision. Ryan Contegni worked with ruthless efficiency.
Together, the pair helped Liverpool’s baseball team edge past Cicero-North Syracuse 4-3 in Friday night’s latest chapter of this fierce local rivalry at the Gillette Road complex.
The two sides had not met since last year’s Section III Class AA final at Alliance Bank Stadium, which the Warriors won 9-5 after trailing 4-0 at one point.
In many ways, this game mirrored that title game, right down to having left-hander Joe Pokrentowski start for the Northstars. Contegni, a senior right-hander, opposed him.
Again, C-NS took the lead, courtesy of a three-run second inning keyed by Corey Burrows’ two-run double to the wall. Again, Liverpool came back, tying it 3-3 in the top of the third as Contegni doubled home one run and scored the other on a wild pitch.
From there, both sides missed multiple chances to break the deadlock. Will Apps relieved Pokrentowski in the sixth inning and Liverpool put the go-ahead run on third base before Tyler Bliss grounded out.
So they were still even, 3-3, as the top of the seventh inning got underway. Apps had to face the top of the Liverpool order – and on his very first delivery, he plunked Nick Pilotti, putting the go-ahead run on base.
After Contegni moved Pilotti to second on a sacrifice bunt, Caruso stepped up to the plate. As a pitcher, Caruso won that 2011 sectional final, but in this game he had only played a supporting role, reaching base on an error in the first inning that led to the Warriors’ initial run.
That changed here, as Caruso drilled a single to right field, allowing Pilotti to race home with the tie-breaking run. Caruso was thrown out trying to steal second, which stifled a larger rally because Pat Wright and Steve Baldini followed with singles, but Matt DiPaulo hit into a force play.
Still, it was another clutch performance from the St. John’s University-bound Caruso, and now it was Contegni’s turn to work in the bottom of the seventh against the heart of the C-NS order.
It didn’t take long. On the first pitch, Mike Mento popped out. On the second pitch, Eric Hamilton flew out. Cleanup hitter T.J. Sprague fouled off the first pitch he saw, but then grounded out.
So Contegni needed a grand total of four pitches – by far his shortest inning of the season – to finish the game off and maintain the Warriors’ upper hand in the C-NS rivalry.
Before getting together, the Warriors and Northstars both had to dodge week-long raindrops and get as many games in as possible.
Both managed to play last Monday – and of the two, Liverpool had far more stress, having to make a big late comeback to win a wild, 8-7 decision over Auburn at Falcon Park.
Despite its 2-10 record, and despite falling behind 4-0, the Maroons chased Pat Wright from the mound with a two-run third inning five-run outburst in the bottom of the fourth.
Now trailing 7-5, Liverpool staged its own comeback, with a three-run sixth to move in front. The Warriors benefited from poor Auburn defense, the hosts making five errors. But it also saw Dom Pirro go three-for-four and score three runs. Pilotti managed two hits and one RBI.
Liverpool’s bullpen salvaged the day, too, as Luke Gilbert, relieving Wright, worked three scoreless innings to earn the win.
C-NS didn’t have nearly that sort of problem, beating Syracuse East 10-2 a mere four days after that same East squad beat Liverpool. Even here, East led 2-0 before the Northstars scored three runs in the bottom of the fourth and broke the game open with a seven-run fifth-inning outburst.
Vince Mallaro smashed a home run, earning three RBIs, while Jake Gelloff went three-for-four and drove in three runs. Mento, Paul Vinciguerra and Hamilton each had one RBI as Sprague scored two runs. Kyano Cummings pitched three innings without allowing a hit, striking out five as Apps worked the other four innings for the win.
Thursday’s 3-2 win at Central Square was more harrowing, though. The Northstars grabbed a 3-0 lead by the second inning as Mento and Kapcinski both drove in runs, with Sprague and Hamilton scoring.
For six innings, Austin Frawley maintained that 3-0 edge on his way to a three-hitter. But Central Square made it sticky in the bottom of the seventh, as Tim Traub’s RBI double keyed a two-run rally before Frawley could record the final out.
Right after beating C-NS, Liverpool played on Saturday and rallied past Oswego 8-3. The Warriors trailed the Buccaneers 3-1 before tying it with a pair of third-inning runs and moving in front with five more runs in the fourth and fifth.
Wright drove in three runs, while Contegni went deep for a home run and earned a pair of RBIs as he and Pilotti both scored three runs. Nathan Dodge relieved Pirro in the third and pitched the rest of the way, giving up just two hits to earn the win.