Posted: Wednesday, March 13th 2013 at 11:38pm
Baseball: No. 1 Wolves get by East Hall
By Jeff Hart Staff
BUFORD -- On the day when the Buford baseball team found out it was ranked No. 1 in Class AAA in one poll, coach Tony Wolfe was left questioning that decision after watching his team take an uninspiring 5-1 win over East Hall Wednesday at home.
“I don’t think we’re a No. 1 team right now,” he said. “We appreciate the recognition but we’re a young team and have a lot of things to work on. We’ll see where we are in a month or so.”
Pitching is one area Wolfe and the Wolves (5-1, 2-0 Region 7-AAA) may not have to worry about much as Jake Higginbotham and Connor Bennett allowed just five East Hall hits while fanning 11 with just three walks.
Higginbotham especially was dealing early with 18 of his first 20 pitches for strikes and striking out the side in each of the first two innings.
“I thought Jake threw the ball real well early,” Wolfe said. “We’ve been pitching pretty well overall so far. That’s probably our strength. We’re young and still finding our way offensively.”
Higginbotham finished with 10 strike outs and walked two while allowing just one run. Bennett pitched the final two innings fanning one and yielding two hits.
Buford banged out nine hits, coaxed five walks and three hit batters from East Hall pitchers Jacob Cash and Jack Hagwood, but also stranded 10 runners. They left 12 runners on base on Tuesday despite an 11-0 win over the Vikings (2-5, 0-2) in the first of the home-and-home series.
“We’re leaving too many guys on base. The weather may have something to do with it but it’s an area we need to improve in as the season goes on,” Wolfe said.
East Hall’s Cash matched Higginbotham early.
Cash retired the side in order in the first and got a doubleplay in the second inning. But Buford would load the bases in the second with two out and would plate the first run on a Cash wild pitch scoring Higginbotham for a 1-0 lead. Cash would fan Leo Narrison with two runners in scoring position to get out of the inning.
East Hall would answer back in the top of the third. Hagwood walked to lead off on four straight balls from Higginbotham and would score on a wild pitch after moving to third on a passed ball and sacrifice from Jon Smith to tie the game at 1-1. Higginbotham would end the threat by getting Hunter Buffington to ground out with two runners on base.
Buford would answer that with a run in third but could not take advantage of three hits and a hit batter. East Hall would throw out a runner at third on Joey Bart’s RBI hit and Cash fanned Russell Klein and Higginbotham grounded out with two runners on base to end the inning.
The Wolves would pushed their lead to 3-1 in the fourth when Hunter Puckett singled and would score score on a one-out ground out by Narrison.
The Vikings had a chance to tie the game in the fifth getting two runners in scoring position with one out following a long double to center by Cash. But Higginbotham got Spencer Skelton and Buffington to fly out to end the inning.
Buford would extend its lead to 5-1 in the fifth, highlighted by an RBI single from Higginbotham. The Wolves had a chance to blow the game open but left the bases loaded as Cash was able to get out of the inning with no further damage. They left the bases loaded again in the sixth without scoring a run.
For East Hall, Cash pitched well allowing four earned runs on seven hits but walked four and hit three batters in five innings. Hagwood scattered two hits in one inning for the Vikings.
Cash finished with three hits as well for East Hall. Caleb Holtzclaw and Hagwood each had one hit for the Vikings.
East Hall next will play host to Fannin County on Friday in another Region 7-AAA battle.
Buford will play host to Banks County on Friday, also in Region 7-AAA action.
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