The ‘A’ Northstars got their 2014 season off the mark on Saturday in Dublin, splitting their games against the Greystones Mariners and moving to 1-3 on the year.
The first tilt required extra innings, with the Mariners squeezing past the ‘Stars in the 10th inning, taking the nailbiter 3-2. A true pitcher’s duel, Mark Smith’s complete game outing (4 H, 3 ER, 9 K) was countered by another 10 inning performance from the Mariner’s Jaime Cuevas (9H, 1 ER, 5 K). In the second game the Belfast side found their swing and produced 12 runs, which proved to be more than enough to stake the team to a 12-8 final result, with veteran starter Gord Cuthbert himself throwing a complete game (7 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 2K). With head coach Jon Carter not being available and Aodhan Hamill carrying an injury, The Northstars will take heart as both players will be available and ready for the next games.
No rest moving forward, the Northstars return to Dublin this Saturday with the unenviable task of playing a double header against two fresh teams, the Black Sox and the Dublin Tigers.
Having already faced the Tigers this year, Carter and his team will be hoping to reverse the results of the previous meetings, with the coach leading the way with a dominant pitching performance (8 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 3BB, 11K) only to be countered by the Tigers’ own ace, Erick Roldan (7.2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 7 BB, 11K). The Northstars will chalk the defensive errors that ultimately decided the first game up to rustiness in what was their first outing of the year at a windy Henry Jones’ field in Belfast. The second game saw the Tigers jump to an early 6-1 lead after four, but the tenacity of the home team saw them claw the scoreline back. Not enough on this day however, the Tigers taking the second game 14-12.
The last time the Northstars faced the Black Sox in the regular season, it turned out to be a slightly longer day than expected.
On a day that would determine the final playoff standings, the Black Sox would take the first game 11-3 and would jump to a very early lead in the second, the Belfast team trailing 7-2 after 3 innings of the 7 inning game.
The Northstars then found their swings, taking the game into extra innings, the score at the bottom of the seventh being tied 11 all. What followed had never been seen in Baseball Ireland before, and it will probably be a long time before it is seen again. The game proceeded into the fourteenth inning, the Northstars riding a relief pitching performance from Mark Smith that would rival any starter’s line (9.0 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 11K), before the Black Sox squeezed in the winning run as the shadows stretched long across the infield, four hours and 45 minutes after the first pitch had been thrown.
The Northstars will hope that the fighting spirit shown will be charged and ready as they jostle for position in the Baseball Ireland standings.
By Neil Boyd (General Manager)
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