Cicero-North Syracuse pitcher Luke Dziados (14) had to follow up teammate Chris Cramer’s eight-inning shutout of Liverpool when he took the mound for the second game of the series against the Warriors last Tuesday – and did so, tossing a complete game and limiting the opposition to five hits in a 4-0 victory.
Of all the three-game series, complete or otherwise, played among CNY Counties League baseball teams this spring, none carried the importance of the battle between last year’s two Section III Class AA finalists, Cicero-North Syracuse and Liverpool.
True, the Northstars were two-time defending sectional champions, but the Warriors had roared out to an 11-0 start, having swept both Syracuse and Fayetteville-Manlius, while C-NS had battled inconsistency throughout the spring.
Yet things changed once the Warriors arrived at North Syracuse Junior High School on Taft Road for last Monday’s season opener. Cold weather and cold bats led to a game where no one scored until the Northstars, in the bottom of the eighth inning, prevailed 1-0 and handed Liverpool its first loss of the season.
Jeff DiStefano got the start for the Warriors and, for 6 2/3 innings, he stifled the C-NS lineup, only surrendering two hits while striking out four. However, Northstars pitcher Chris Cramer was even better, getting seven strikeouts and going all the way to the eighth to keep it 0-0. Cramer gave up just two hits, one each to Joe Zywicki and Jake Evans.
By the time they reached the bottom of the eighth, Nick Antonello had relieved DiStefano. However, Antonello gave up a double to D’Ante Zapanta and, with two outs, intentionally walked Nick Spinella to load the bases. Brendan Reilly came to the plate – and Reilly drew an unintetional walk that allowed Zapanta to trot home with the winning run.
Just 24 hours later, the two were at it again, this time at Liverpool, and C-NS’s other ace, Luke Dziados, would also keep Liverpool off the board, only this time it didn’t require extra innings as the Northstars beat the Warriors 4-0.
Liverpool had chances throughout the game, never letting Dziados retire the side in order. However, in the bottom of the first C-NS set the tone when Joe Brisson, starting at third base for the first time, caught Joe Zywicki’s line drive and then dove for Zach Scannell’s grounder to throw him out after Jake Evans singled.
Dziados only had three strikeouts, and gave up five hits and three walks, but even when the Warriors got good contact, it got hit right to Northstars fielders or lost steam in the chilly air, even with the wind blowing out toward left field.
Meanwhile, C-NS got to Liverpool starter Joel Cicciarelli in the top of the third as Tim Schinto singled and raced home on Connor Stanton’s double. Spinella’s RBI groundout made it 2-0, and it stayed that way until the sixth, when the Northstars doubled its margin on run-scoring hits from Schinto and Joe Mallaro.
Liverpool did pull out the third game of the series Thursday at the Gillette Road complex, prevailing 3-2, but not before its shutout streak against the Northstars stretched to 17 innings thanks to C-NS starter Logan Presse’s fine early work.
However, the Warriors got to Presse for a run in the fifth on Harder’s single, and then took a 3-1 lead on Jacob Sisto’s two-run home run. That proved enough as Antonello, tossing a complete game, allowed a run in the bottom of the sixth, but held on as he limited C-NS to six hits. DeStefano led his side with three hits, two of them doubles.
In between all these games, C-NS won again on Wednesday, taking out F-M 5-1 after those teams split their first two meeting the week before. Justin DelVecchio got his turn to spin a gem on the mound, limiting F-M to two hits and striking out six to overcome four walks.
C-NS got to Hornets pitcher Chris Maloney for single runs in the first two innings and three runs in the third to break it open. Brisson, with three hits, two runs scored and two RBIs, led the Northstars as Connor Stanton added a single, double and RBI. Mallaro and Spinella also drove in runs.