RALEIGH — Correspondent
Millbrook pitching ace B.J. Nobles got stronger as the game wore on and his team followed, rallying for two runs in the seventh Tuesday afternoon to take a crucial 6-4 win over Broughton.
The Caps fell to 10-5 overall and 6-1 in the Cap Eight and play Friday night at Leesville Road, which also has just one league loss. Millbrook (8-8, 5-3), which lost to Broughton 3-2 in eight innings earlier in the season, stayed within striking distance of the leaders with the win.
“This one is huge for us,” Millbrook coach Austin James said. “If we lose this game we’ve still got a lot to play for, but winning it puts us back in the conversation for the top of the conference.”
Broughton jumped ahead 2-0 in the first inning, but Millbrook tied the game 4-4 with two runs in the sixth and then took advantage of a couple of breaks to score two more in the seventh.
With two outs in the top of the seventh, the Wildcats had pinch runner Connor McKenney on first. Nobles then singled McKenney to third and Richie Mueller came on to run for Nobles. Alert base running allowed the two to score on a passed ball and throwing error, giving Millbrook its first lead of the game, 6-4.
“Base running was key. McKenney and Mueller came in the game, took the extra base and scored after the passed ball,” James said. “That’s what you want, depth guys coming in and making plays like that.”
Nobles (4-1) gave up a double, the Caps’ fifth hit of the game, in the bottom of the seventh, but closed the door on the remaining batters for the win.
“I struggled on the mound for the first few innings,” Nobles said. “But I slowed down, tried to get ahead, and once I figured it out I started bringing up the velocity again. This was a must-win for us and we did a great job coming back from being in a hole early so props to my boys for that.”
Broughton third baseman Rob Case had three of his team’s hits, including a single in the two-run first inning.
Millbrook scattered six hits among a trio of Broughton pitchers. Nobles and second baseman David Tart had two hits each for the Wildcats.
“We battled a little bit, I thought Millbrook battled a lot,” Broughton coach Harry Jones said. “And they made things happen at the end of the game. Our quality of at-bats declined as the day went on and I thought they battled a little harder than we did.
“We’re in a good spot, but it’s an every day thing, trying to get better every day, but we didn’t today. We’ve won most of these battles, but we were a little late responding in a couple of situations and it didn’t go our way.”
James was proud of his team’s comeback.
“That’s something we’ve been working on the last couple of weeks,” James said. “If we give up runs early, so what? We’ve got good players on this team, good hitters, so we’ve just got to stay in it. B.J., as he always does, kept us in the game. He’s a different animal, he got in that groove, and he found it late in the game.
“We had really good at-bats and finally, finally when we had to have a break we got one. I’m really proud of the guys. That team was undefeated in conference. We’ve lost five one-run games this year and we’re finally starting to get the feeling we’re going to get over that hump,” James said.