Tigers fall in CL title game
Northwestern’s baseball team knew what it was up against heading into last week’s Colonial League title game.
The No. 2 seed Tigers were fully aware of Bangor’s 1-2 punch at the top of their pitching rotation and of the Slaters’ offense, which had beaten it’s last three opponents by 10 runs or more, including two playoff wins.
The Tigers did their best to stay within striking distance, but they came up a couple runs short in a 4-2 loss last Thursday at Parkland High School.
“The fact that the final score is 4-2 is a testament to our kids here,” said Porrino. “We gave up so many base runners. I think we had 11 hit batters/walks, two errors, seven hits, we gave them 20 base runners. Our pitchers battled but they fell behind in the count a lot.”
Bangor’s offense did just enough to win. The Slaters belted seven hits and had runners on base in every inning. It took solid defense and crafty pitching to keep them for breaking the game wide open.
“They had great approaches at the plate,” said Tiger head coach Duran Porrino. “I think that’s what won them the game. They’re a great offensive team and they work counts.”
The top-seeded (22-0) made Northwestern pitchers work, earning 11 free passes on nine walks and two hit batters. Four Tiger pitchers combined to throw 141 pitches in the game.
The Tigers got out of some jams with limited damage, as Bangor stranded 13 runners in the game, leaving the bases loaded in the first, fourth and fifth innings.
“That’s a little too many,” said Slater head coach Greg Hartman. “I was a little worried. You want more breathing room.”
Bangor’s pitchers made sure their team didn’t need much breathing room.
Carson Freeman, who was named the Colonial League Most Valuable Player earlier in the day, got the start and went five-and-a-third innings. He held the No. 2 seeded Tigers (17-5) to four hits and two runs, leaving the game tied 2-2.
Landon Labar finished off the game and got the win, throwing just 29 pitches over the final two-and-two-thirds innings.
“We’ve relied on our pitching staff all year,” said Hartman. “Carson wasn’t at his best, but he held it together. Landon just did an excellent job.”
Bangor went ahead 1-0 in the second inning when Cody Kuchar, who walked to start the inning, stole third base and scored on a throwing error.
The Slaters tacked on another run in the third on Drew Kluska’s RBI double. Northwestern’s Mason Vogwill, who relieved Drew White early in the third inning, struck out the final two batters of the third to keep Bangor’s lead at 2-0.
Vogwill pitched into and out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth before the Tigers tied the game in the next frame.
Northwestern’s Jacob Haas drew a lead-off walk and Zach Stanley singled to put runners on the corners.
Haas scored on a Jake Augustus fielder’s choice to make it 2-1. Augustus came home on Tyler Schreiner’s infield single to tie the game.
The Slaters didn’t trail for long. Back-to-back one-out singles by Jacob Raub and Kuchar and a two-out walk to Anthony Schiavone loaded the bases, and Raub came home on a passed ball.
Bangor added another run in the sixth when it loaded the bases with no outs on two walks and a hit batter. Freeman scored on a Dylan Benton sacrifice fly.
“We went into this game expecting it to be close,” said Porrino. “They’re a great team but we weren’t in awe of them.
“Our game plan was to do what we always do, we want to get runners on and bunt them over. We had a few miscues on the bases that might have cost us a big inning or two.”
The title was Bangor’s first Colonial League baseball crown since 1981.
“It’s special, it really is,” said Hartman. “These kids are unbelievable competitors and you can’t ask for anything more than that.”
Northwestern 000 020 0 - 2 7 1
Bangor 011 011 x - 4 7 2
White, Vogwill (3), Haas (6), Fager (6) and Wiik; Freeman, Labar (5) and Field. W - Labar. L - Vogwill.