That the Liverpool baseball team, young and in full development in the wake of its 2017 state championship run, fell out of the Section III Class AA playoffs in the quarterfinal round did not register as a big surprise.
On the other hand, the fact that Cicero-North Syracuse, for the second year in a row, got ousted in that same round did provide a jolt.
Even with a no. 2 seed, and even with all the good work it had done since mid-April, the Northstars’ season ended Wednesday afternoon when no. 7 seed Syracuse stunned them 8-1 at the Gillette Road complex.
What made this perhaps a bigger shock than the 2017 defeat to Fayetteville-Manlius was the fact that Syracuse played a different schedule this spring, competing in the Salt City Athletic Conference Empire division against Class A foes.
Syracuse went 9-10 against that schedule, including an 8-0 defeat to C-NS back on April 18 when Mason White and Joe DeGroot combined to hold them to four hits.
Syracuse had improved plenty in the month since that game, though, and demonstrated that improvement from the start, keeping the Northstars off the board and using single runs in the first and third innings to take a 2-0 lead.
Then, in the top of the fourth, Syracuse scored five times to break it open, with Connor Burke and Ryan Kisslstein at the forefront as Burke doubled twice and got two RBIs, with Kisslstein also driving in a pair of runs.
All that C-NS could get against Syracuse pitcher Jed Boyle was a single run in the bottom of the fifth. Boyle limited the Northstars to six hits and, with seven strikeouts, helped his team advance to the semifinals.
Liverpool may have taken advantage of this situation had it beaten no. 3 seed West Genesee for the second time in as many weeks, but it ran into trouble early, and Wildcats pitching ace Liam Barry made the Warriors pay for it in a 4-0 defeat.
Jake Wheeler, who held the Wildcats to four hits and shut them out 8-0 seven days earlier, pitched again, but in the bottom of the first WG’s Chris Bonacci singled, Nick Chemotti reached on catcher’s interference and Matt Kot’s single scored Bonacci.
It didn’t stop there, either, as Joe Comins’ single loaded the bases and a rattled Wheeler threw two wild pitches that brought home Chemotti and Kot.
So it was 3-0 before Wheeler could record an out, though Wheeler, to his credit, settled down and, over the next five innings, kept the Wildcats off the board and waited to see if his teammates could provide any help at the plate.
Barry prevented that, though. In his first five innings, Barry surrendered just one hit, and survived his lone crisis in the sixth when two singles and an error loaded the bases with two out before Jordan Brown grounded out. Barry finished with six strikeouts.
WG added a run in the bottom of the sixth, driven in by Kot on an infield hit. Bonacci added a final touch with an over-the-shoulder basket catch deep in center field in the seventh.
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