OREFIELD - Northern Valley's Alex Smith was staying with North Parkland's Brett Kosciolek pitch for pitch.
They put on a pitchers' duel for six and a half innings of yesterday's Lehigh Valley Legion playoff game.
Smith retired the first nine batters he faced before allowing an infield single. Kosciolek surrendered his first hit of the game in the sixth inning.
While both pitchers received back up from their defense, the game's lone run came on a flyball that no one could get a glove on.
North Parkland right fielder Jordan Jones led off the bottom of the seventh inning by getting into a hitters' count and jumping on a 3-1 pitch. He sent it over the fence at the Orefield Middle School field. The walk-off homerun lifted North Parkland to a 1-0 victory over Northern Valley in the second-round playoff game.
"I feel bad for the team to lose on a walk-off home run, but I really do feel bad for Alex," Northern Valley manager Brad Rauch said. "He's a great kid. He has been a great leader. My heart's broken right now for the kid. To watch a ball go over the fence like that, and that's the way the game ends, it's heartbreaking for a coach, let alone for one of my players.
"That's the best he pitched all year. To be able to battle against a team like North Parkland and basically shut them down for seven innings like he did it shows a lot about his character."
For three innings, Smith forced the Buffaloes to fly out five times and ground out four times.
In the fourth, Smith allowed the only two hits he gave up over the first six innings in back-to-back singles by Boo Weaver and Justin Affelbach. Weaver tried to steal second base, but was gunned out by Charger catcher Collin Breidinger. Affelbach got stranded at third base.
In the last two innings, the only base runners Smith allowed were on his second walk of the game and an intentional walk called by Rauch.
Smith won't let it dampen the performance he had against one of the best teams in the Lehigh Valley.
"We held them at bay," said Smith, who threw only 65 pitches over seven innings. "We have faced them three times and they haven't really beaten us that bad in those games. I just tried my hardest out there on the mound today.
"You just have to give them credit. It was a 3-1 count. I had to bring it over the plate and he just hit it far. There's nothing I could have done about it."
The loss drops Northern Valley into the loser's bracket. The Chargers play this evening against Coplay at Northwestern High School at 5:45 p.m.
Kosciolek, a Tamaqua High School player, and his North Parkland teammates will now face Salisbury tonight in to the winner's bracket final.
"It was a great at-bat by him," said Kosciolek, who finished with five strikeouts and three walks on the day. "He waited till he got a strike and he was able to get enough contact on it to drive it far. It was definitely good for me because I didn't have to go out for an extra inning.
"You've got to give credit to the infielders. They made the plays out there. Other than that though, it was a tough game. We went into extra innings with them earlier in the season. They're a good team."
Smith broke up Kosciolek's no-hitter in the sixth and then teammate Ryan Trexler recorded another hit with a single in the seventh.
Northern Valley 000 000 0 - 0 2 0
North Parkland 000 000 1 - 1 3 2
Smith and Breidinger; Kosciolek and Merkle. W - Kosciolek. L - Smith. HR: NP - Jones (7th, none on).