Rivalry games throughout the world of sports have always been regarded as the most entertaining to watch.
The baseball match-up on Friday between rivals Northwestern and Northern Lehigh certainly held up to that.
The Bulldogs rallied from a 6-1 deficit in the top of the seventh, scoring four runs, but it wasn't enough as the Tigers held on for the 6-5 Colonial League victory.
Northwestern (12-6, 8-6) got out to a fast start, scoring three runs in the first inning.
After Taylor Breinenger and Austin Yanek led off the inning with walks, Nick Rodriguez drove in a run with a sac fly and Collin Breidinger and Rich Perry both earned RBIs with a hit a piece.
"We got out of the gate real well and that's what we always try to do," said Tigers coach Len Smith. "We always want to put runs on the board early because it puts pressure on the other team. From there on we added some runs and our pitcher Alex Smith was really breezing along."
That's exactly what Smith was doing.
Until the seventh when the Bulldogs bats finally woke up, Smith had only allowed three hits, one run, and struck out six. The Tigers senior had pinpoint command for most of the day and fooled many Northern Lehigh batters with a very efficient curve ball.
"I started the day pretty good and I was really hitting my spots with my curve and my fastball," said Smith. "I really don't know what happened in the last inning. I guess it happens to every pitcher, but I just tried to focus and put the ball in play and let the defense do the work."
Northern Lehigh, which looked like they had nothing for Smith for the first six innings of the ball game all of a sudden started to figure the senior out. They collected five hits in the top of the seventh with Ty Dibilio coming through with two RBIs, Drake Steele getting an RBI single, and Travis Nelmes hitting an RBI double.
Smith retired Eli Oswald, who was the first batter of the inning before giving up three straight hits. Then he retired Eli Oswald before Steele's RBI single. Smith then faced pinch hitter Austin Landis, who he got to ground out to the shortstop sealing the win for the Tigers.
"I just try not to get too worried about it when I'm struggling on the mound," said Smith. "I just try to continue to hit my spots and not get to emotional out there. I just try to stay poised."
With the win the Tigers are now 12-6 and if they win their next two games, which are Colonial League contests they will qualify for the league playoffs and also win the Northern Division.
"We stress fundamentals and we work on them all the time and we always come back to that at practice if we feel like we need some repetition on something," said Smith. "We really work the basics and that makes us fundamentally sound. If you take care of the little things in this sport then the bigger things will take care of itself."
No. Lehigh 000 010 4 - 5 8 1
Northwestern 301 200 X - 6 8 0
Hoffer, Hamm (6), and Hallman, Landis (6); Smith and Breidinger; W - Smith L - Breidinger