With a big early-season showdown against defending state Class AA champion Baldwinsville looming on Tuesday, the Cicero-North Syracuse baseball team dealt with a pair of one-run defeats, which slowed things up after a 3-0 start.
The first stumble came last Thursday at Gillette Field, falling 1-0 to Oswego, the same team it lost to in last year’s sectional semifinals.
C-NS couldn’t fault pitcher Steven Theetge, who struck out nine, but the Northstars had difficulty at the plate putting any kind of rally together and the conditions (a heavy wind blowing in from left field) aided the defenses. Oswego pitcher Josh Carney held the Northstars to four hits and struck out seven.
Another defeat followed on Saturday as Syracuse East knocked off C-NS 4-3. Twice, the Northstars came back, from deficits of 1-0 (in the second inning) and 3-1 (in the sixth inning), only to have Syracuse East poke across a run in the top of the seventh and hang on as pitcher Damon Ozelek, who threw a complete game, got the final outs.
Jason Shandler pitched five innings for the Northstars before Jesse Farabee worked two innings in relief. Owen Dziados scored two of C-NS’s three runs, while Justin Teague got a pair of hits. But the team had just four hits overall against Ozelek, who amassed 11 strikeouts.
Just before all this, C-NS played at Syracuse West, and well-timed power from Jake McArdell led to some early runs, and C-NS held on for a 7-5 victory, its fourth in a row.
They were scoreless until the top of the third inning, when C-NS pushed across a pair of runs. Then, in the fourth, the Northstars pushed that lead to 6-0, most of it thanks to McArdell, who smashed a three-run home run in the chilly conditions.
Unfazed by this, Syracuse West closed the gap to 6-5, mostly on the basis of a four-run fifth inning. That chased C-NS starter David Verrett, who had given up four hits and four walks while recording a pair of strikeouts.
But the Northstars’ bullpen came through, as Ryan Nadeau helped C-NS get out of that jam in the fifth and Farabee, already with two hits and two RBIs, worked the last two innings for the save. Anthony Nesci scored two runs, as did Dziados, while Teague added an RBI.