You can tell the playoffs are near.
Millbrook and Heritage’s Friday night Cap-8 Conference baseball game had all the tension and clutch plays you would hope from a postseason contest.
No play was more clutch that Jason Taylor’s single up the middle that drove in Huskies teammate Max Ruskie from second base to lead Heritage to a 1-0 win in nine innings.
“We needed this to have a chance to win the conference in the Cap-8,” said Taylor, who was the designated hitter and batted ninth.
The playoffs have probably started already for both sides. Both are one game back of Leesville Road for first in the Cap-8.
Millbrook (13-8, 9-3) and Heritage (16-5, 9-3) each got the most they could out of their pitching.
The Wildcats’ Seth Werner went 8 1/3 innings in the loss. The Huskies’ Trent Harris pitched 7 1/3 before being removed on pitch count. J.D. Burrows, Heritage’s other starter, came in and did the rest to pick up the win.
Both sides made tough catches in the field to keep the game scoreless until the last at-bat.
“I stayed in and competed and the defense was great behind me. We didn’t make many errors at all, and some people saved me in special situations,” Harris said. “Pitching to contact is my main focus right now and letting the defense do what they do best.”
Heritage coach Thomas Ferrera was pleased with a better night at the plate than when the Huskies first faced Werner and had double-digit strikeouts.
“We struck out twice tonight and that makes a huge difference. We put pressure on their defense,” Ferrera said.
To earn a share of the Cap-8, Heritage will have to win out and root for Millbrook on Tuesday when the Wildcats face Leesville. Potentially, all three teams could tie for first with 11-3 conference records. All three teams split with one another, so the only way to break the tie, per NCHSAA rules, is by random draw.
“It’s so tight atop the conference right now, I don’t know that it changes much about our approach,” Millbrook coach Austin James said. “We’ve got a really tough finish: we’ve got Heritage, Leesville and Sanderson to end the year. Our approach was to win all three of those games, and that’s not going to change any.”