Smith's catch lifts N'western
Northwestern's Brady Mengel connects with a pitch against Bangor on Monday. The Tigers posted a 6-5 victory to stay tied for first place in the Colonial League North Division. Nancy Scholz/ Special to the TIMES NEWS
It's not often when a defensive play saves the day in a baseball game.
More often, the game-winning moment happens in the batter's box.
For the Northwestern baseball team, the moment in Monday's game happened when senior Alex Smith made a diving catch in left field that ultimately helped seal the deal in an all-important 6-5 Colonial League victory over Bangor.
With the Slaters threatening with one out in the seventh inning, Smith came through with his glove to preserve the Tigers' slim one-run lead.
It wasn't an easy play to pull off, but Smith was just glad he came up with ball, which helped put his team closer to making the Colonial League playoffs.
"Well, I kind of had a bad break on it at first," Alex Smith said. "It was a line drive. They're the hardest ones to judge. I just knew the game was on the line. I had to do what I had to do."
No one was happier then Northwestern manager Len Smith with the left-fielder's heroics which allowed the Tigers (13-6 overall; 9-6) to stay tied with Catasauqua for the North Division lead with one game to go.
"He never ceases to amaze let's put it that way," the Tigers' mentor said. "When I saw that go off the bat, I thought that was the down the line. I thought it was going to get by. But that's the second play (the first coming in a win over Lehighton last month) that Alex has made this season to save a game.
"You have to give him credit for his effort. He has come a long, long way the last couple of years. I think sometimes he amazes himself."
While Smith's catch recorded the second out, senior pitcher Richard Perry capped the victory by striking out the Slaters' Kevin Huffman to end the game.
Moments before when Huffman first got a hold of the pitch, Perry thought he was in trouble. But, his classmate allowed him let out a sigh of relief instead.
"Before the hit, I was like, 'Oh no! Here we go!," said Perry, who finished with the save on the mound after playing first base for the majority of the game. "Then seeing him just lay out for it, it was amazing because as soon as he showed he had caught it I gave a little jump (of excitement). I was really happy about that one."
While it was the play in the outfield that Smith will remembered for, he also had two hits earlier in the game that put his team in good position for the victory.
In the first, Smith gave the Tigers the lead with a two-run single. In the third inning, he pulled through to give the Tigers a more comfortable lead with an RBI-double. Shortly after, Jake Augustus added a RBI-single to make it 4-0. Then, in the fourth, Collin Breidinger added a two-run single to finish off the Tigers' scoring on the afternoon.
Although Bangor (9-10; 8-7 CL) threatened with a four-run sixth, the Tigers held on thanks to Smith's huge play.
"We wanted to get revenge on them," Alex Smith said about the Slaters 13-7 victory earlier this season. "That was kind of embarrassing when we went up there. But, we knew we were in a tough spot for playoffs today and we knew we had to win."
Bangor 000 014 0 - 5 8 1
Northwestern 202 200 x - 6 8 1
Freeman, Cutter (3) and Nigito; Eden, Perry (6) and Breidinger. W - Eden. L - Freeman. S - Perry.