Cicero Bright sunshine and cold temperatures greeted the Cicero-North Syracuse baseball team Saturday as it began its quest to wrest the Section III Class AA crown away from its Liverpool neighbors.
The Northstars passed the first small test, relying on strong pitching and one big rally at the plate to beat Christian Brothers Academy 5-1 at Gillette Field.
A year ago, C-NS found itself at Alliance Bank Stadium sprinting out to a 4-0 lead on Liverpool in the sectional final but watching the Warriors rally to win 9-5.
Though stars from 2011, including Riley Moonan and Brian Hamilton, have departed (Moonan is already having an impact as a freshman at Fairleigh Dickinson), a solid core of players return, including top pitchers Joe Pokrentowski and Kyano Cummings.
And it was Cummings that drew the season-opening assignment against CBA. The senior left-hander worked five innings and did not allow a hit, striking out 11 before Will Apps and Brandon Kapcinski each pitched an inning of relief.
Meanwhile, the Northstars' bats woke up in the bottom of the third inning, getting all five of its runs against CBA reliever Brandon Turner.
Eric Hamilton's double was the big blow, as he finished with two hits and a run scored. Joe Bodnar, Vince Mallaro and Owen Dziados also scored runs during that rally.
Now C-NS joins Liverpool in making the trip south to Myrtle Beach, S.C. During the April school break, the Northstars will play in the Mingo Bay Tournament against opponents from across the country. The first C-NS league game is April 16, at West Genesee.
Those games in Myrtle Beach will mark the opening games of Liverpool's season, having only played scrimmages against local sides.. The Warriors have its league opener on April 17, when it hosts Central Square.