Mixed feelings for the Belfast Northstars on the road back from Dublin last weekend; they had successfully pegged one back on the Dublin Tigers, the team that got their season off to an inauspicious start.
This followed a loss to last year’s A league finalist, the Shankill Black Sox which happened to contain a breakout performance from a former Cavan Comet.
With starter Gord Cuthbert not travelling, and carrying a slight injury himself, head coach Jon Carter was forced to look to new addition Melvyn Woods to initially take the hill against the Sox.
Woods didn’t disappoint. The big left hander proceeded to throw a game that belied his relative inexperience in the role (8.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 BB, 8 K). Unfortunately the Northstars offense couldn’t provide enough run support for their starter, and fell to an agonising 3-2 loss.
Buoyed by Woods’ outing, Mark Smith took the ball in the second game and proceeded to throw a complete game performance . By this time, the bats had well and truly woken up as the Belfast side carded 15 runs to offer some payback to the Dublin Tigers, with 6 of the runs being driven in by Melvyn and Colin Woods.
This weekend, coach Jose Santos and the ‘B’ Northstars will attempt to pick up where they left off a few weeks ago, having defeated the newest team in Baseball Ireland’s ‘B’ league, the Ashbourne Giants.
Smith was again a factor in the first game, dominant on the mound (7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 7 BB, 15 K) and, together with Melvyn and brother Colin Woods, productive at the plate (6 R, 5 H , 7 RBI combined). The Stars would cruise to an 11-1 victory in the first.
The second game proved much tighter than the first, the 16-10 winning scoreline for Belfast being underpinned by a rough first inning for Alex Delaney of the Giants. This gave coach Santos a chance to test other pitching arms on the roster, with right hander Colin Woods taking the ball for five innings (5 H, 8 ER, 5 K) before Darwin Sanchez pitched a scoreless sixth and Smith finishing off the game.
With the Woods brothers not available, coach Santos will be looking for others to step up and lead the charge this weekend as they take on the Greystones Mariners in Dublin.
Last season the 3 game series between the Stars and Mariners was split in favour of the Belfast side, the first a 13-2 mercy rule win, with Colin Woods and Jose Santos causing the majority of the damage (5 H, 9 RBI combined). The second game on the day saw the Stars offense stymied by a solid pitching performance by the Mariner’s Jack Farrell (7.0 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 8 BB, 12 K) as the Greystones team split the day with a 8-5 victory.
The deciding game was essentially over within the first two innings, the Northstars racking up five runs in the first frame and eight in the second. The Belfast offense was driven by Aodhan Hamill, Sean Shackley (2 RBI each) and Mark Smith (3 RBI). Smith and Gord Cuthbert split the pitching duties on the day, shutting out the Mariners in a 14-0 victory.
Similar run production will be expected this weekend as the ‘B’ Stars look to stay undefeated in 2014.
For more information about the games, or if you would like to get involved, contact the Northstars on email@example.com. Check out their Facebook page (Belfast Northstars Baseball) and follow them on twitter (@NorthstarsBB).
By Neil Boyd (General Manager)