Bailey McCachren wasn't at her best Wednesday afternoon.
But she sure fooled anyone who watched her twirl seven shutout innings against Milton.
McCachren, who was battling an illness, gave up just three hits in a complete-game gem, helping secure Forsyth Central's spot in the playoffs with a 2-0 win.
“It’s just going around. I have another girl that was sick as well, Sydney Moroney, who probably yesterday needed an IV after the game," Central head coach Paul Cromie said. "She’s a trooper, man. Give her credit.”
McCachren missed Tuesday's game against Lambert, a 9-1 loss, because of a fever, but she returned Wednesday with Central's season hanging in the balance. She responded with 13 strikeouts and didn't walk a batter in the win.
“I mean, I don’t think I was at 100 percent," McCachren said after the game, still trying to catch her breath, "but it was working.”
McCachren hit two batters in the first two innings, but neither one made it to second base.
Milton shortstop Riley Krueger had a triple and a single against McCachren but was stranded each time.
Krueger led off the fourth inning with a triple, but Kiley Perry popped up a bunt, and McCachren struck out the next two batters to escape the jam.
Central (11-16, 7-4 Region 5-7A) struck first in the opening inning when Moroney reached on a single, advanced to second on a Caraline Bryant walk, then scored when Milton second baseman Parker Holcombe made an erroneous throw to first base.
The Bulldogs added an insurance run in the fifth inning when Bryant's RBI double brought home Moroney.
“The thing of it is, is just to be patient and see a lot of pitches, especially in this situation with Bailey," Cromie said. "When they came in the dugout, I said we’ve got a pitcher who’s sick, and there’s nothing better for a pitcher than to have some rest in between innings. Let’s try to extend the innings, try to extend your at-bats and do it that way.”
Moroney went 3 for 3 for Central, scoring both runs, while Bryant finished 2 for 2 with a walk and Mattie Smith collected two hits.
Central had a runner reach base in every inning but the second, but struggled to capitalize on its chances.
“I think, just keeping track today, there was six or seven again left on base," Cromie said. "I’m just praying sooner or later that’s going to stop. It’s just been something that’s been our Achilles heel all year.”
Perry was effective all afternoon for Milton, scattering seven hits over six innings and giving up two runs — one earned — while striking out five.
The win eliminated Milton from postseason contention and guarantees Central a spot in the Class 7A playoffs. The Bulldogs can earn a No. 3 seed if they beat Lambert twice, on Wednesday night and in a potential if game on Thursday.