This weekend, the Belfast Northstars (8-0) look to stay on their winning streak against the Dublin Spartans (3-3), a team that they are facing for the first time this season.
With Gord Cuthbert, Mark and Chris Smith in Austria at the Finkstonball Invitational, Jose Santos had to dig slightly deeper into his roster, and the ‘B’ team rose to the challenge. Santos himself would drive in 4 runs and the Stars would continue to benefit from the hot bat of Chris Stange at first base. Melvyn Woods would throw another solid game for the win in the first game (5.0 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 5 BB, 9 K), with Darwin Sanchez and Colin Woods providing excellent support from the bullpen (2.0 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 1 K combined) to back up their starter.
Game two would show the Northstars to have grit, determination and a willingness to fight until the final out. Buoyed by Melvyn Woods’ two run home run in the bottom of the third, the Belfast side would still find themselves down four going into the final inning. Coming to the plate having had errors in the field, right fielder Kevin O’Hare would come up with a clutch hit to drive in starting pitcher Sean Shackley from second base to take the second game on the day. Shackley would drive in two runs himself on the day as well as throwing an impressive complete game outing (7.0 IP, 5 H, 11 R, 4 ER, 7 BB, 10 K).
Last season in the B league, the Northstars would take the season 2-1, including a mercy rule victory. The first tilt saw Mark Smith pitch 5 innings of 2-run ball, with Sean Shackley pitching in relief on this occasion and not allowing another run to help Belfast to a 6-2 win.
The second game would be a more comfortable affair for the Stars, thanks to another solid pitching performance from John Sculli (5.0 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 9 K) and Colin Powers shutting the door in the sixth inning. Powers would combine with Sean Gottschalk and Santos to drive in eight of the Northstars’ thirteen runs. On this day, the Spartans had no answer for this onslaught and the game was called at the end of the sixth.
The two teams would meet the following week and the Spartans would have revenge on their mind. They would hit the Stars for seven in the fifth inning and despite a valiant fightback in the last, the Belfast side would not have enough to sweep the season series.
The Northstars will have to remain focussed as the Spartans are never a side to be underestimated.
For more information about the games, or if you would like to get involved, contact the Northstars on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out their Facebook page (Belfast Northstars Baseball) and follow them on twitter (@NorthstarsBB).
Don’t forget to check out the first episode of our new documentary ‘Striking In: A Year With the Belfast Northstars’: