Onwards and upwards for the BASA
Following on from a opening day defeat to IAFL2 leaders Donegal/ Derry Vipers, the Razorbacks hoped to get their season going with a home win against the Wexford Eagles. Conditions were perfect with the sun shining and a slight breeze in the air. The Eagles arrived early in Belfast keen to lay the ground work for a second win.
As the minutes counted down to kick-off, the crowd built in numbers buoyed by the scent of barbecue smoke drifting across the field. The Razorbacks welcomed several players back from injury and were confident that the game was there for the taking. Things started well for the Razorbacks with an end to end drive but failed to make the momentum count and came away with no points.
As the game progressed, the Eagles found their feet and started to pull away on the scoring chart going for two points after their first touchdown and then converting a field goal to make it 11-0 . The Razorbacks remained focused and determined to make a game of it. Things improved for the Razorbacks in the second half with their first touchdown of the season scored by running back McKee. The Razorbacks, eager to claw back some points went for two but failed to convert.
With time running out, the Razorbacks pushed hard but in the final few plays the Eagles protected their lead running out 27-6 winners. The score line belies the heart and talent the Razorbacks possess and certainly is not an accurate reflection of the true competiveness of this game.
The Razorbacks now look forward to their second home game of the season against North Dublin Pirates on Sunday 19 June 2016. Onwards and upwards.
With one eye on the upcoming tournament, coach Sean Shackley was looking to get as many of his pitching staff innings before next weekend; with that in mind, the ball was handed to Colin Woods in the first game.
The big righty wouldnt disappoint, although things were a little shaky early doors.
In the first inning the Comets came out swinging, putting two quick runs on the board, but this Northstars team has plenty of fightback in them, even in the early innings.
Leadoff hitter Sean McMahon quickly put his stamp on the game, ripping a triple in his first at-bat. He didnt have to wait long to get home. Melvin Woods, catching for his brother on the day, lashed one over the right field fence to tie the game up at two and it wouldnt be the only time that would happen on the day.
After the quick outburst of runs, both defences settled down, working through the next inning without a baserunner. The Comets came close in the third but a solid catch in right field by Kevin O’Hare would leave two of the Cavan team stranded.
Inspired by his catch, O’Hare would strike a triple in the bottom half of the inning and with a throwing error by Cavan, the right fielder would stroll home to help the Northstars take the lead for the first time.
Unbowed, the Comets showed fightback of their own, pulling the score to 5-3 in the fifth. Another run by McMahon and a 2-out, 2-RBI double by Stephen Rogan in his first game in a month helped the Stars stretch out to 9-3.
Another double by Melvin Woods and a ground rule double by Gord Cuthbert saw the game called at 13-3 – a consistent output of runs and solid defence in the first game gave the home side plenty to cheer about.
But after losing to the Spartans after a solid win against the Hurricanes a few weeks ago, this Northstars team was not going to be caught out again with a post-victory hangover.
Having been catching for most of the season, Mark Smith would step out from behind the dish and onto the hill for the home team to flex his pitching arm. Quickly working through the first three hitters, Smith would himself put the Stars on the board in the bottom of the 1st, driving in the first run. Stephen Hunter would strike a ground rule double in the bottom of the second to make the score 2-0. Belfast would then load the bases for Chris Shields who would draw a walk, bringing another home. Melvin Woods would then step in but a sacrifice fly would be all he could muster at this AB but it was enough to bring in another runner.
Cavan would fight back however with a 2-out 2-RBI hit to split the lead in half. Reacting to the comeback, Smith would start the bottom of the third with a double who was then driven in by Colin Woods who was brought in himself by another double by Hunter. The Comets came back once more with a third run and threatened more, but a double play by the Northstars infield stalled any more scoring.
Unfortunately, with a lead of 6-3 in the top of the fifth, issues in his non-throwing shoulder would cause Smith to leave the mound, handing the ball off to Gord Cuthbert with the bases loaded with 0 out. Proving to be the antithesis of Smith’s velocity, Cuthbert’s arsenal of breaking pitches only allowed Cavan to tie the game. It wouldnt be long before Belfast took the lead once more. With runners on, a perfect bunt by Josh Cuthbert would help McMahon home. A 2-RBI home run from centre fielder Stephen Hunter saw the lead extend to three.
With one more roll of the dice, Cavan added two more runs but that would be as close as they would get. Having scored two more runs, Smith would have a 2-run home run himself making the score 13-8. Switching sides and styles once more, Melvin Woods would take the ball for the last few outs; Cavan would have no answer for the fireballing left hander as the game was closed out 13-8.
Moving to 7-2 on the season, the Northstars will revel in the official opening of their new facility and will no doubt look to make a name for themselves in the Ulster Baseball Championship this weekend.
Guest post by Ted of BASA
To find out more about Angels softball, Northstars baseball and Razorbacks football, visit www.belfastbaseball.co.uk or follow the teams on social media.