Harker Heights coach Glenn Cunningham stepped up from his spot at third base and gave the sign.
The Knights were intentionally walking Broderick Reed to get to Elijah Hilliard.
The Shoemaker senior looked down at the coach and shook his head. For him it was a bit personal.
“I’ve played on varsity for four years and I played against their coach for four years and I feel like he knew me a little bit,” Hilliard said. “Sometimes in the past I have caved. But my coaches kept coaching me up and teaching me how to do it.
“And I finally did it ... I was not going to let my team down. Not again.”
The Shoemaker first baseman came through in the clutch and stroked a single in between third base and Knights shortstop Cody Plagens, giving the Grey Wolves the insurance run they needed in a 3-2 win over Harker Heights on Friday at Shoemaker.
The Grey Wolves maintain their grip on third place in District 8-5A with the win and needs either Ellison to lose or one more win to clinch a playoff berth. Harker Heights (11-12, 5-6), meanwhile, is still a game ahead of the Eagles, who lost 3-1 to Temple, and sit in fourth place.
Shoemaker (15-9, 7-4) needed the RBI single from Hilliard for what turned out to be another one-run win — its fifth win by two runs or less in district play.
“I don’t know why we play the games close like we have been, but the good thing about it is these kids are real resilient,” Shoemaker coach Harry Zambrana said. “We have the confidence in a one-run ball game that we can come back and win.”
In the seventh, Plagens smacked a two-out single to right field to score Heights first baseman Robby Sluss, who had reached on a fielder’s choice. The RBI single cut the Grey Wolves’ lead to one. However, Delgado struck out Caleb Dean — his 11th of the game — to wrap up the win. Delgado pitched complete game for Shoemaker, giving up seven hits and two walks and pitching out of jams in both the second and third innings.
In the second, Tyler Torres and Tyler Keller had back-to-back singles to start the inning. But, after a sacrifice bunt by Michael Zapata moved the runners over, Delgado got Kyle Randall to ground into a fielder’s choice and struck out Jomar Velez-Pereira. In the third, Heights loaded the bases with Torres and Miles Munro drawing walks and Sluss picking up a single. However, Keller hit a easy fly ball to right field to end the threat and both Plagens and Dean struck out. Heights finally broke through and tied the game in the fifth after Munro singled and later scored on a passed ball.
Shoemaker went up 1-0 after Albert Castro singled to lead off the second inning and later scored when Hilliard hit a ball that was booted by Torres at third base — one of six errors by the Knights. Hilliard, who is batting .327 this season, scored to put Shoemaker up 2-1 in the fifth. After drawing a walk, he drew a throw to first base that got away, letting senior plod on down to second.
“It is real frustrating because those (errors) are uncharacteristic of what we have done all year and I don’t know why we started tonight,” Cunningham said. “It tells me more or less that our kids are pressing a little bit. They are trying to make plays that are not there.”
Then on a ground out by Jamie Funk, he drew a throw to third base, again the ball got away and Hilliard trotted the 90 feet to home plate and put Shoemaker on top.
“We always make mistakes and teams take advantage of us,” Hilliard said. “It is out time to take our opportunities and I just wanted to capitalize and give us the chance to win.”
Contact Nick Talbot at email@example.com or (254) 501-7569