Bucs comeback cut short
Ultimately it was the trusty Belfast weather that had the last word on Wednesday night, stopping the Belfast Buccaneers just as things were getting interesting.
Sporting a brand new battery of pitcher Christopher Barr and Irish fastpitch softball international catcher Marian Neill, the Bucs and Belfast Northstars faced off on an already gloomy Wednesday night at Hydebank and despite an early deficit, the expansion Bucs would circle the frigates and begin their comeback.
With two outs gone in the second, the Northstars (led by Melvin Woods who, by his own standards, was battling control issues) had jumped out to an 8-1 lead. With Sean Shackley taking over for Barr, the Buccaneers scrapped four runs back to take the score to 8-5.
In an effort to halt the comeback, the Stars would add another brace of runs in the fifth; Shackley taking matters into his own hands and driving in Chris Stange made it 10-6. Showing excellent plate discipline, Melvin Woods would see the bases loaded but after striking out Neill and Van Houten, minimal damage was done after another run plated for the Bucs when Billy Thompson was walked.
Unfortunately, with the game starting to heat up, the conditions became too dark too early for play to safely continue and, to put the final nail in the game, the heavens opened just as the final handshakes were being exchanged.
A critical win for the Belfast Northstars, but there was plenty for the Buccaneers to take heart from moving forward…
This weekend it is the turn of the Northstars to put their feet up along with the Angels with the Bucs travelling to Ashbourne and the Hornets welcoming the Cavan Comets to Hydebank.
Already leading the season series 3-1, the Bucs will be looking to build momentum to the playoffs. The first game was a short affair being called after four innings with the Giants lagging behind 19-4. The score was, in no small part, to the punch in the middle of the Belfast order provided by third baseman Chris Stange and centrefielder Terry Rosbotham (6 R, 6 H, 10 RBI combined). With sixteen runs plating in the first two innings, the Giants had little chance to extend the game past the fourth.
In the second, despite another 4 RBI by Rosbotham the Giants, led by Sean Mitchell with both bat (2 R, 3 H, 5 RBI) and ball (9 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 9 K) would top the Bucs and their rookie pitchers Kalvin Breet and Christopher Barr, 12-9.
That blemish to the record would clearly be on the mind of the Belfast team as they travelled to Dublin for the third and fourth tilts of the season series as they outscored the young Giants 28-3. In the first game of the day the offensive provided by Jose Santos (3 R, 2 H, 1 2B, 3 RBI), Alex Linderman (3 R, 4 H, 2 2B, 3 RBI) and Stefano Baschiera (3 RBI) was simply too much of an assault on Giants starter Kevin Mitchell, 17-3 the final.
Not content with the three runs against and with the ball placed into the right hand of Sean Shackley, the Bucs would go on to slam the door, 11-0, on the Giants that were their own worst enemy committing eight errors during the game compared to the lone error by the northern side. That, coupled with another balanced offensive performance by the Bucs was enough to send the black and orange home happy.
Hopefully the weather will be a little more settled at Hydebank this Saturday as the Comets fly north. After splitting last weekend’s games against the Bucs on their home turf, the Cavan side will no doubt feel confident and ready to take on the division leaders.
This will only be the third time the Comets and Bugs have squared off due to a postponed series in July, with Mark Smith’s team taking the spoils in both games.
Smith himself was a huge part of the victory, driving in eight runs thanks to three home runs to seemingly each part of the field as the Hornets cantered to a 21-6 victory, bolstered thanks to an eleven-run outburst in the last inning.
The second game was a much closer affair and despite jumping out to a 3-0 lead to support starter Colin Woods, the Comets would jump to a 6-3 lead after five innings. Refusing to lie down, Smith would score in the sixth and (along with Woods, again in the seventh) to tie the game.
Moving to extra time and clearly with the momentum, the Hornets would add another four runs and, showing confidence and faith in his starter, Smith would leave Woods in to finish the job.
The Comets are looking to solidify a playoff spot in the Baseball Ireland B league North Division but with Smith and Woods likely starters once more, it will be a difficult task to slow down the Hornets.
by Neil Boyd
Be sure to check out the Facebook pages and twitter feeds for the teams of the Belfast Baseball and Softball Club – The Belfast Northstars(@NorthstarsBB) , The Belfast Buccaneers(@BelfastBucs), The Belfast Hornets (@BelfastHornets) and The Belfast Angels Softball Club (@Belfast_Angels).