"We were happy the game was tied because if not, the game would have been over with," Naternicola said. "But our bats came alive later on. We got kids who hit the ball."
The turn of events brought Polar Bears senior relief pitcher Andrew Strand to the forefront.
The team's ace, Strand had started the game in the dugout, but came on in relief of starter Matthew Robbins following Smith's inside-the-parker.
Strand cooled Bridgeport's bats for the most part, striking out four and allowing just two hits in four innings of work. However, walks were his undoing in the ninth inning.
Indians senior DH Brett Hathaway led off the bottom of the ninth with a four-pitch walk, took second on a passed ball and stole third one pitch later. Logan Zirkle hit a one-out sacrifice fly to score the All-State running back from the Indians' football team.
With two outs and after Hunter Mann drew another walk, Smith had one more bit of heroism in his bat. He laced a line drive down the right field line to score Mann and again tie the game, this time at 6-6.
"He did a nice job all over. In the field, at the plate. He handled the bat real well," Shields said of Smith, who went 3-for-5 with a triple as well as the inside-the-park homer, and drove in five of Bridgeport's runs.
"We had several key performances today, coming back the way we did several times. That shows how much fight and grit these kids have," Shields said.
The 10th inning was too much for Bridgeport to overcome. Junior Johnny Kesling led off with a single and Ryder Skarzinski pushed him to third with a double to center field. Before retiring Gage Hannah on strikes, Skidmore was wild again, throwing a pitch that went to the Power Park brick backstop before it could be corralled. In the meantime, Kuhn came across with the winner.
Senior Fletcher DeVaul, who went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBI, came on in relief of Strand to get the win. He threw 1 1/3 innings of scoreless and hitless relief.
Fairmont will take on either Herbert Hoover or Independence in the Class AA state championship game at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at derek.tay...@dailymail.com or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter @ItsreallyDT.