CATO — The air was chilly but the bats were hot.
The Blue Devils' bats were just a little warmer.
Cato-Meridian baseball opened its season with a 12-7 win over Weedsport Wednesday in Cato behind a seven-run third inning and 16 total hits.
The Blue Devils sent 13 batters to the plate in the third, building their lead from 2-1 to 9-1. Insurance runs in the fourth and sixth innings held off a Weedsport comeback attempt.
Gavin Carvey (three runs, double, RBI) and Tyler Cordway (three RBIs, two runs, double, walk) both registered three-hit games for Cato-Meridian. Ryan Corsoniti (three runs, two walks), Caleb Welsh (two RBIs), Connor Harrington (two RBIs, two walks, double) and Hunter Towers (run) each added a pair of hits.
Welsh also pitched the final three innings, striking out four with two runs against.
"Our offense was pretty good," Cato-Meridian coach Will Mapley said. "We hit the ball pretty well, had a couple mistakes on the basepaths and at the plate with signs, but overall we hit the ball well."
The Warriors didn't pile up quite as many hits as Cato-Meridian, but led off both the second and third innings with triples — one from Garrett Sawyer and the next from Jake Brown. Weedsport also had a high-scoring inning of its own, plating four runs in the fourth, but the offense wasn't enough to make up for some interesting adventures on defense.
"No team has ever won or lost a championship in the second game of the year," Weedsport coach Rob Matson said. "We like our team, we know we're better than we saw today. It was just a very weird day. [Cato-Meridian] had a lot of tweener hits, a lot of infield stuff and weird stuff happened, and unfortunately it didn't go our way."
The biggest moment of the game came with Weedsport on offense, down 9-4, in that fourth inning. The Warriors had the bases loaded with one out, with Aidan Mabbett at the plate to face the Cato-Meridian pitcher Corsoniti. On a 3-1 pitch from Corsoniti, Mabbett thought he took ball four and proceeded a few steps to take his base, and the runners on the basepaths followed suit.
However, the home plate umpire called the pitch a strike, and Blue Devils catcher Tylor Wheeler smartly threw to first base to tag the retreating runner for the second out. Weedsport still managed a run on that sequence, but in that situation Cato-Meridian gladly traded a run for an out.
"What was great was we've got a few upperclassmen playing in the middle infield for us that really help keep us on our toes, know the situation and keep us from falling asleep," Mapley said. "They stayed awake, made the call, communicated and got the play. It was a weird situation."
Mabbett ended up walking on the next pitch anyway, but that moment was a missed opportunity for the Warriors that could've swung a different way.
"I'll be up talking to my assistant coach until 11:30 p.m. tonight talking about the what-ifs," Matson said. "In that particular situation we had the bases loaded and saw a pitch that was rattling around in the dirt and there was no signal ball or strike. We did get a run across, but going from bases loaded and (one out) to a guy on second with (two outs) was a huge momentum changer. We were in striking distance with a good part of our lineup up, so that was a tough pill to swallow but everyone sees it a different way and that's kind of the beauty of baseball."
Brown (run), Jake Hickok (two runs, two walks, RBI), Connor Mabbett (two runs, two walks), Owen Mabbett (run, walk, RBI), Brandon Webster (walk) and Sawyer (run, walk, RBI) each recorded one hit for Weedsport. Aidan Mabbett earned two free passes.
Coming off a 4-6 season with a team that was senior-heavy, Cato-Meridian boasts a youthful team this year that is withholding too much expectation, instead taking the day-by-day approach. The Blue Devils are back in action Thursday against Bishop Ludden.
"We're taking it one day at a time, one game at a time," Mapley said. "The goal is always making sectionals and anything on top of that is gravy right now. I just want to see these guys get better every day. They work hard, they're a good group of kids and there's a lot of talent. We had eight seniors that we lost so it's a little different team, but they're fun."
Weedsport is taking a different approach. Despite the setback against Cato-Meridian, Matson believes the Warriors should contend for a league title and do some damage in sectionals when the time comes. They'll have a chance to get back on track Thursday at home against Port Byron/Union Springs.
"We have extremely high expectations," Matson said. "Last year we were in the league championship game with a team of sophomores. This year they're all juniors so there really is no excuse. We expect to contend for league and our goal is always to win the sectionals. We've got a lot of three-year veterans that have a lot of at-bats and a lot of innings, so we're real excited."