Cicero-North Syracuse infielder Zach Emm (6) pivots to make a throw despite the slide from Liverpool’s Sam Sgroi (3) in last Monday’s game, where the Northstars won 9-3. Emm would later save the third game in the series.
For nearly 12 months, the Cicero-North Syracuse baseball team had waited to get the shot at Liverpool it never did during last spring’s Section III Class AA playoffs.
The fact that the Northstars got knocked out by Fayetteville-Manlius in the early rounds meant that it could not face a Warriors side it beat twice during the regular season – but would go on to win its first-ever state title without having C-NS to worry about.
Now they were on the same diamond again, and C-NS this time pulled off a three-game sweep, peaking with Thursday’s stunning 4-3 win over Liverpool in the first game of a doubleheader at the Gillette Road complex.
For six innings, Warriors pitcher Luke Harder had kept C-NS in check, only giving up a run in the fifth as Liverpool used single runs in the second, third and fifth innings to get in front 3-1.
Then, with two out in the bottom of the seventh, and the Warriors one out from getting even in the series, Tim Schinto blasted a two-run home run off Harder to tie it, 3-3.
Gerard Mouton relieved Harder, and threw just one pitch – which D’Ante Zapanta crushed over the fence to end the game in the Northstars’ favor.
With that momentum, C-NS charged into the second game of the twin bill (last Tuesday’s game was rained out) and won 7-5, scoring all of its runs in the bottom of the second .Z
Zapanta and Mike O’Connell both earned a pair of RBIs, with Schinto, Tim Taladay and Kyle Alberici also driving in runs before Mouton was relieved by Dan Stapleton, who would keep it from getting away by pitching four scoreless frames.
Northstars lefty Justin DelVecchio tossed five scoreless innings, and yet Liverpool nearly came back, scoring twice in the fifth on hits from Brandon Exner and Joe Zywicki and getting a bases-clearing triple in the seventh from Mike DeStefano, forcing Zach Emm to relieve DelVecchio and get the final out.
The first game took place last Monday at Liverpool, and though the Warriors have improved from a rough opening portion of the 2018 campaign, C-NS showed no sympathy, prevailing 9-3.
An early 1-0 deficit vanished when C-NS got a run in the second inning. Then it struck for three runs in the third and fourth innings to go in front 7-1, chasing Exner.
That was enough for Mason White, who pitched six solid innings and struck out seven while allowing six hits. Joe Mallaro went four-for-five at the plate, earning two RBIs as O’Connell got three hits and two runs scored.
Connor Gonzalski also drove in two runs as Bristow, Zapanta and Schinto scored two runs apiece, with Alberici and Taladay adding RBIs. For Liverpool, Harder and Sam Sgroi and Luke Harder each had two hits, with Jordan Brown adding an RBI.
Both sides earned impressive shutouts on Wednesday. Liverpool toppled West Genesee for the second time in as many weeks, prevailing 8-0 behind the tremendous pitching of Jake Wheeler, who limited the Wildcats to four hits in his complete-game effort.
It helped Wheeler, of course, that the Warriors struck for four runs in the bottom of the second and added three runs two innings later. Joe Zywicki earned a pair of RBIs, with Wheeler, Mike DeStefano and Luke Harder also driving in runs. Nick Brown doubled and scored twice.
C-NS, meanwhile, went to Oneida and blanked the Indians 6-0, allowing just two hits as it used a four-run fifth inning to break a 0-0 logjam and scored twice more in the sixth.
Schinto went three-for-three, scoring twice as Bristow and Jared Lonergan had two RBIs apiece. Zapanta also had two hits as he and White drove in single runs.
Even with the sweep of Liverpool, C-NS still finished second in the Salt City Athletic Conference Metro division race at 8-4, one game behind Baldwinsville (9-3), who had its own sweep over the Northstars early this season.
And there’s a chance the Northstars are not done with Liverpool yet.
As the no. 2 seed in the Section III Class AA playoffs, C-NS hosts no. 7 seed Syracuse as no. 6 seed Liverpool visits no. 3 seed West Genesee. So if the Northstars and Warriors both win, they will have a fourth encounter in the semifinals at Onondaga Community College.