The Belfast Northstars (4-6) will only be required to suit up for a single header this weekend in Dublin as they face down the Dublin Spartans (8-1), one of the perennial Baseball Ireland league contenders.
Despite being given two walkover wins by the Black Sox, the lack of playing time means settling into any groove proves difficult for Jon Carter’s team, which has now gone six weeks without a game. Carter will hope that focus and effort are maintained as the league moves into its final third. The Northstars do so knowing that work is still needed to scrap into the playoffs, with the Tigers and the Black Sox all within touching distance of the 3rd and 4th places in the table.
The Spartans will be hurting from suffering from their first loss against the high flying Hurricanes and will be looking to stop the bleeding quickly against a Northstars team that will themselves be looking to keep in check a potent Spartans offense.
This is the first meeting of these two teams in 2014, with a double header to come in the middle of August at Henry Jones field.
The season series last year was split in the Dubliner’s favour, with their wins being comfortable. The first saw veteran Scott Karmes through a complete game performance (3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 4K) as the Northstars attempted to counter with Jonathan Sculli, Gord Cuthbert and Mark Smith. Scoring nine runs in the last two innings would see Belfast fall 12-2.
In the second game, the Northstars would come out swinging, generating 11 runs on the day with the top of the order Sculli, Cuthbert and Carter combining for 6 hits, 6 runs and 6 RBI. Unfortunately, although Karmes would not have a great outing by his own standards (5.0 IP, 8 H, 10 R, 10 ER, 6 BB, 0K) his bat would do the talking with a 5 RBI performance that would inspire the rest of the order. A ten-run outbust in the fifth inning would be more than enough to drive the Spartans to a 21-11 win.
Determined not to be swept, the Northstars would hand the ball to Jonathan Sculli who would not only drive in two, but throw a solid performance from the hill (CG, 4 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 5 K) that would give the Stars a fighting chance. Jumping on errors made by the Spartans, a 7-4 victory would at least leave the Belfast side with a reason to hold their heads up.
With the Spartans putting together another impressive season, the Stars will have to put their rustiness aside and come out of the gate hard this weekend.
By Neil (General Manager)
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