With South Aiken's Andrew Faulkner and Brookland-Cayce's Michael Gilroy on the mound, runs figured to be at a premium in Monday night's winners' bracket contest in the Class 3A Lower State baseball tournament.
So it came down to which team made a critical. That turned out to be the Bearcats, allowing the Thoroughbreds to claim a 5-3 victory to put them in the driver's seat in the tournament.
Brookland-Cayce will play host to St. James in an elimination game Wednesday. The winner will travel to South Aiken on Friday in the double-elimination format.
"That's what the game is about, especially in high school," South Aiken coach Bob Polewski said. "We've got to capitalize on the mistakes, and we did a good job of that when the opportunities presented themselves."
Each team collected four hits, but all four of South Aiken's went for extra bases.
The Thoroughbreds' Stephen Leopard followed a Chris Brooks double with an RBI double in the second inning. An inning later, Nate Kohns and Ben Donath hit back-to-back home runs to make it a 3-0 game.
Gilroy, who threw 25 pitches in relief during the Bearcats' victory Saturday, left a couple of balls up in the zone to the meat of the South Aiken order.
"Gilroy made a couple of mistakes on some of their better hitters, and they made him pay for it," Brookland-Cayce coach Brian Hucks said.
South Aiken stretched its lead to 4-0 in the fourth. Gilroy walked the leadoff hitter, and Leopard followed with a single. A passed ball moved the runners to second and third, and Tanner Hawley delivered a RBI groundout.
Faulkner, a junior left-hander who has committed to South Carolina, allowed a two-out single in the first through three innings until running into trouble in the fourth.
Addison Delk belted a two-out, three-run home run to put the Bearcats back in the game.
"Faulkner was pretty good most of the night," Polewski said. "He had the one long inning that kind of got his pitch count up, but he grinded it out."
Faulkner threw just over 100 pitches, striking out nine and walking two.
The Thoroughbreds (24-5) added an insurance run in the fifth off reliever Garrett Williams. Kohns was hit by a pitch, stole second and scored on a throwing error on a groundout by Donath.
"We gave away of a couple of runs with mental mistakes," Hucks said. "We have a passed ball that leads to a run and a throwing error that leads to another run, and that's the difference in the game."
W: Andrew Faulkner (7-2). L: Michael Gilroy (7-4). Leading hitters: SA - Nate Kohns HR; Ben Donath HR; Stephen Leopard 2-2; B-C - Chase Shelton 2-3; Addison Delk HR. Rec: SA 24-5, BC 23-6.