Crusaders edge Tigers in title game
Bob Fatzinger couldn’t help but think another rally was coming.
Trailing by a run entering the seventh inning of Thursday’s Colonial League championship game against Notre Dame (Green Pond), the Northwestern baseball coach thought a comeback was looming.
And why wouldn’t he? Fatzinger watched the Tigers score seven runs in the seventh inning Tuesday to storm past top seed Southern Lehigh and advance to the final.
But there was no magic in the offing against the Crusaders.
Starting pitcher Brandon Moffitt kept the Northwestern bats in check, and Notre Dame found just enough offense to secure a 1-0 victory, and its first league title since 2014.
“We had a chance a little bit from the other night, maybe it was lurking there,” Fatzinger said of the final inning Thursday, when Jacob Haas advanced to second base with two outs. “But, hey, it didn’t happen.”
Haas moved into scoring position after a one-out single in the top-half of the seventh inning for the fifth-seeded Tigers. But Moffitt shut down the rally with a strikeout, his seventh, to end the game.
“Brandon is a senior,” said Crusader head coach Mike Bedics. “He’s pitched in big games for us the past couple years. It’s what we expected out of him. I’m more than thrilled for the kid.”
Moffitt allowed just three hits in six innings of work for No. 2 seed Notre Dame.
Northwestern’s Deven Bollinger was 2-for-2. The freshman hit a one-out double in the top of the third inning, and the Tigers had two runners on after leadoff hitter Tyler Schreiner was issued a free pass.
But Moffitt worked out of trouble, and Northwestern didn’t have a runner in scoring position until Haas advanced to second in the seventh.
Moffitt got his run support in the bottom of the sixth inning when leadoff hitter Jarod Herman slapped a one-out single to leftfield. Tyler Mottley entered the game as a pinch runner for Herman, and quickly made his presence felt.
An errant pickoff attempt allowed Mottley to hustle to third base. Austin Kaulius (2-for-3) followed with an RBI single to drive in Mottley for the game’s only run.
“We were trying to put a little pressure on them, and make something happen,” said Bedics. “Because it wasn’t happening for either team, and somehow you had to hope that somebody was going to take advantage.”
Northwestern starter Andrew White matched Moffitt with a stellar performance. The junior allowed just four hits while striking out three.
“We just gotta fight harder,” White said. “We played well for most of the game. It just came down to a few things we can’t really control. We just have to learn from this and come back out fighting.”
White’s strong start was a nice bounce back after Tuesday’s game against Southern Lehigh, when he was lifted in the second inning.
“He’s done everything we ask,” Fatzinger said of White. “You couldn’t ask for anything more from him. He came back and showed how he can pitch, and that’s what we’re pleased with.
“That gives him the confidence he needs, and it gives the team confidence when he’s on the mound.”
Despite being just 48 hours removed from an emotional win over Southern Lehigh, Fatzinger had no doubt his team was focused heading into Thursday night’s contest.
“It takes a lot out of you,” Fatzinger commented. “But I thought we were ready. And I think it showed.”
Now, the Tigers will reset and gear up for districts.
“It was a good, hard-fought game, and now we’re moving on,” said Fatzinger. “We have another season now coming up with districts. That’s something to look forward to.”
Notre Dame beat Northwestern 3-2 in the only regular season meeting between the teams this year on April 22. “We can learn from every game. Just have to do things better next time,” added White.
Northwestern beat Notre Dame 5-3 in last year’s Colonial League semis. The Tigers lost to Bangor 4-2 in the final. Northwestern also advanced to the final in 2015, losing to Saucon Valley, 3-2.
“This is our third year in a row, second for me,” said White. “I love this group of guys. It’s a great team. Just glad we got the opportunity. Wish we could have come out with the win.”
The Tigers opened District 11 Class 4A Tournament play as the No. 4 Wednesday when they host No. 5 Saucon Valley in a quarterfinal game. That game was played after Press deadline. See next week’s issue for coverage. The winner is slated to face top seed Pottsville in a semifinal on Memorial Day.
N’western 000 000 0 – 0 3 1
Notre Dame 000 001 x – 1 4 0
Moffitt and Beyer; White and Wiik. W – Moffitt. L – White.