Northern Lights 7 Southpaws 5
Tuesday 22 July 2003 – 10:49:00
As predicted in this column early on Saturday morning, pitching won through in the end, not just to give the Northsiders a hard-fought victory but also to give the spectators a high quality game. It was no surprise the MVP chosen from each team by the opposing captains were the days starting pitchers. Apart from one high scoring early inning against him, Gareth Donnelly the Southside ace can be proud of his performance, keeping his team in the game right through to the final out. But it was the Northside?s Darragh Jones, keeping Southside hitters quiet and the base-paths empty that won the game for last years champions.
Credit to Rob McGarry who managed to score three of the North’s seven runs without getting a hit. In fact there was only one extra-base hit during the seven innings which says it all, and while it came from the bat of the South?s red-headed, left-handed, dodgy under the high-ball outfielder Hugh Cahill, DJ remained calm on the mound. With the fielders behind him making the necessary outs and then some, Gareth Kelly even trying to throw a runner out at first from leftfield, the North deserved credit for staying with the task in hand as the Southside chipped away at their lead, a run an inning at a time.
And then to that exciting final inning. With one out, a run already scored and a runner on second, it was a risk for the North?s catcher Iain Duncan to call for an intentional walk on Gareth Donnelly, putting the winning run at the plate with Cian (two triples on the season) O?Donovan coming up to hit. But it worked, with the Northern Light’s fielders retiring the next two batters to give them their second victory in as many years of this competition.
There were scenes of joy on the field as the North converged on Darragh Jones and possible disbelief in the South?s dugout as they dwelled on the loss and missed opportunities to put a big inning together. It was from my location one of the best games I?d seen all year. It was played in a great spirit, which is a credit to both Rory O?Riordan and Gareth Kelly, the captains, and to the umpires, with disputes and arguments fewer than last year thanks to Lexi?s and Sam?s impartial rulings.
The standard most certainly couldn?t help being higher than the 22-20 slugfest produced by these teams a year ago but this game was a real sign of the progress of Mariner baseball. Well done to all on the day and to the great night of 80?s music that followed. What an annual event this promises to be!
And finally, most evident on the day was the passion and the game-faces shown by the players on both sides. Lets see now if they can be produced playing against all the other teams north of here.
And what was Gareth Kelly thinking?