The Stars return to Belfast sporting a 4-2 record since their last homestand (2-2 ‘A’ team, 2-0 ‘B’ team) and it will be the ‘B’ team that look to continue building momentum in this early part of the year.
Coach Jose Santos will be looking for his side to continue their impressive run output, having generated 27 runs in the first two games vs the Ashbourne Giants. It would have been difficult to visualise that figure being topped, but the Northstars returned home this weekend having crossed the plate 33 times against the Greystones Mariners.
Mark Smith took the hill for the first game, and quickly shut down the Mariners offense, allowing only one run (unearned) on the day. The first game also contained breakout performances from Darwin Sanchez and Chris Smith (4 R, 5 H, 8 RBI combined). It also saw a return to the lineup for outfielder Kevin O’Hare, who announced his comeback with 3 RBI of his own. The game was called after four innings, the Northstars completing the 18-1 rout.
With neither Colin nor Melvyn Woods available for selection, Santos would turn to first year veteran Darwin Sanchez to start Game 2. The experienced Sanchez would give up only 2 earned runs, and he was well backed by Mark Smith (3 H, 3 R, 3 RBI) and Chris Smith (3 H, 1 R, 3 RBI) with Santos himself and, in his first start for the Northstars, Stuart Fraser, adding 2 RBI each. The Stars would roll to a 15-2 final score.
The ‘B’ Stars move to 4-0 on the year and will look to carry that momentum into this weekend as they welcome the Black Sox to Belfast.
Last season, the ‘B’ Northstars were on the wrong end of the season series against the Black Sox, dropping two of the three games at Henry Jones on a day that many members of the Belfast side would much rather forget.
The 11-13 and 17-19 scorelines greatly flatter the home team as they managed to surrender respective 8-0 and 12-3 leads on a day when Northstars errors were as frequent as hits (17). A resilient Black Sox team refused to quit and a lackadaisical Stars defence was punished accordingly, the defence badly letting down solid pitching outings by Mark Smith (7.0 IP, 10 H, 13 R, 5 ER, 6 BB, 13K) in Game 1 and Gord Cuthbert (7.0 IP, 10 H, 19 R, 3 ER, 7 BB, 6 K) in the second tilt.
Coach Santos will hope that the bats remain hot as the Stars expect a tougher test this Sunday.
By Neil (General Manager)
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