Working their way toward another head-to-head showdown next Monday, the Liverpool and Cicero-North Syracuse softball teams still had to take care of a lot of competition in the lead-up - if the weather cooperated.
At least it was dry, and relatively sunny, on Monday afternoon as the Warriors went to Camillus and endured plenty of tension in a 6-4 victory over West Genesee.
This was the same Wildcats team that beat C-NS 1-0 in an eight-inning decision on April 17, with the same pitcher who twirled that shutout, Morgan Nichols, dealing with Liverpool's potent lineup.
And for five innings, the pitchers ruled. Dana Nicoletti, taking her turn for the Warriors, kept WG off the board, escaping trouble in the first inning when Tess Andrews was tagged out trying to score on Katie McIntyre's single.
Then, in the third and fourth innings, WG put two runners on base, and both times Nicoletti pitched her way out of it, amassing four of her six strikeouts. Yet it remained 0-0 as Nichols kept the Warriors quiet, too, but that would not last.
In the top of the sixth, Nicoletti struck with her bat with a perfectly-placed triple into the right-center field gap. Then, with two out, Alicia Hansen drilled a single to right, scoring Nicoletti.
Moments later, Peyton Bellrose, who had doubled in the top of the fourth, did even better, crushing a Nichols offering that glanced over the top of the left-center-field fence and went over for a two-home run, putting Liverpool in front 3-0.
Moving to the top of the seventh, the Warriors plated three more runs, two of them racing home on Nicoletti's double, with no realizing how important those extra runs would be.
Trying to finish a complete game, Nicoletti loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. That brought up Nichols, who thoroughly atoned for her late pitching struggles by sending a two-strike pitch over the wall for a grand slam, slashing Liverpool's lead to two.