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Posted: Tuesday, May 20th 2014 at 10:20am

Baseball: Buford pushed to decisive Game 3 by Cartersville

By Luke Story Staff
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Jake Higginbotham
BUFORD – It was a tale of two games fueled by excitement and defined by one inning Monday in Buford.

Buford (30-3) and Cartersville (24-11) each utilized a single column on the stat sheet, scoring in spurts, to split their state semi-finals series opening doubleheader in Class AAA at Gerald Mcquaig field, setting up a win-or-go-home game three for Tuesday at 5:55 p.m.

The Wolves took a convincing 4-0 victory in Game 1, much to the credit of another impressive outing by Jake Higginbotham (9-0, 0.60 ERA), only to have the Purple Hurricanes storm back to a 7-2 win in Game 2.

“It was quite a day, in what I would say are two great teams competing with all their hearts,” Buford head coach Tony Wolfe said.

Both teams are no strangers to the intense environment of state playoff baseball, but at times it appeared the moment got the best of the Wolves and the Purple Hurricanes.

“I told the team not to let the excitement of the game to get to them, we really ran ourselves out of some innings,” said coach Wolfe “In enthusiasm and excitement we made a few error in judgments but that’s baseball”

Buford combined to be thrown out stealing or picked off seven times, including one play in which the Wolves were thrown out stealing and picked off in succession.

Just as was the case in Game 3 of Buford’s quarterfinals series win over Pike County last week, Kevin Coulter (10-0, 1.17 ERA) will take the mound for Tuesday’s winner-take-all showdown.

“Kevin has the experience, we need as team need to capture a win in what will be competitive game 3,” said coach Wolfe.

Game 1: Buford 4, Cartersville 0

Higginbotham (10 strikeouts, 2 hits, 0 runs) paved the way for the Wolves from the mound in Game 1, doing as he typically does these days in tossing a complete game shutout.

Offensively, the Wolves caught fire in the second inning, scoring four runs on three hits.

Patrick Burnette’s soaring three-run home run proved the highlight. Jake Mayo scored on the blast after already driving in Nick Wilhite. Hunter Puckett also crossed home plate on the Burnette bomb.

Buford’s scoring flame faded throughout the rest of the game, not posting another run, but four runs was all they needed to capture the victory thanks to dominating pitching and defense.

Game 2: Buford 2, Cartersville 7

Just as the Wolves did in Game 1, the Purple Hurricanes exploded in the second inning of Game 2, tallying five runs in the inning to ultimately seal a pivotal Game 3.

After giving up five runs on five hits in the second inning Buford’s Connor Bennett (10 strikeouts, 8 hits, 6 runs) returned to his distinctive form striking out the side in the next two innings and only giving one more run late.

All game long the Wolves struggled to figure out the Purple Hurricanes pitching, as the team faced a steady barge of breaking balls. Buford’s two runs in the game came in the third inning when Joey Bart crushed a two-run home run to centerfield. Austin Wilhite, who singled earlier in the inning, scored on Bart’s blast.

Cartersville added a run in the fifth inning and another in the sixth inning to cap its scoring and place the wraps on a 7-2 victory.

--NOTE: The Purple Hurricanes will play Game 3 without head coach Stuart Chester, who was ejected during the series after a contentious moment surrounding video equipment in the Purple Hurricanes’ dugout.
Associated Categories: Sports News, High School Sports

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