AAAA baseball: Buford-Locust Grove split
Locust Grove got a clutch pitching performance from freshman Nolan Crisp to help the Wildcats defeat Buford 4-2, earn a split of the Class AAAA championship double-header and force a deciding third game.
Buford (32-4) won the first game 3-2, but Locust Grove (32-5-1) prevailed in the second game. The deciding game will be played Monday at Buford’s McQuaig Field at 5:55 p.m.
Crisp, a right-hander who has already verbally committed to Mississippi State, pitched six innings and allowed one run on five hits, four walks and three strikeouts. He was lifted after walking Dillon Lancaster to open the seventh inning.
Odlanier Rodriguez earned the save, but it wasn’t easy. Brandon Marsh, who could barely walk after fouling a pitch off his foot, blooped a flare that popped out of the glove of outstretched left field Gavin Lee and resulted in a double.
Lancaster scored on a fielder’s choice when he escaped a rundown and eluded the tag at the plate. But with runners on first and second, Nick Wilhite lined into a double play and Jolliff hit a long fly ball for the third out.
The losing pitcher was Griffin Joulliff. He pitched six innings and allowed four runs, three of them unearned, on five hits, one walk, one hit batsman and six strikeouts.
Locust Grove scored a run in the first. Joah Curry led off with a bunt single, took second on a wild pitch, advanced to third on a sacrifice and scored on a fielding error.
The Wildcats added two runs in the second. The first was leadoff solo homer by Clay Shearouse, only the team’s fourth longball of the season. They tacked on another when Austin Moody singled and eventually scored on a wild pitch.
Locust Grove scored a run in the fifth. Curry singled, stole second, went to third on a wild pitch and scored when catcher Noah Ledford threw the ball into left field.
Buford scored in the third inning when Brandon Marsh launched one more than 400 feet for a solo home run.
But Marsh was victimized by nonchalance in the fifth. He singled and a pickoff throw eluded the first baseman, but not far enough for Marsh to advance. But while straying from the bag, Crisp snuck up from behind, took a toss from Shearouse and tagged Marsh for the out.
In the first game, which started 90 minutes late because of a late morning rainstorm, Buford rallied for a run in the bottom of the seventh inning for a 3-2 win.
Lancaster, Buford’s No. 9 hitter, worked a one-out walk and went to second on a single by pitches.
But reliever Joah Curry never found the strike zone. He walked Austin Wilhite on four pitches to load the bases and walked Nick Wilhite to force home the winning running.
The winning pitcher was Justin Glover. The senior pitched seven innings and allowed two unearned runs on four hits and two walks, with four strikeouts.
The losing pitcher was Lindow, who was charged with three runs, one earned, in 6 1/3 innings. He allowed seven hits, struck out five and walked two.
The Wolves wasted numerous opportunities to put the game away. They scored two runs in the third on a bases-loaded walk to Austin Wilhite and a fielder’s choice to Nick Wilhite, only to see the rally short-circuited when Wilhite was picked off first base and cleanup hitter Griffin Joulliff strike out.
Buford also failed in the fifth when Marsh singled and advanced to third on a sacrifice and infield out, only to be cut down at the plate when Locust Grove catcher Colton Bailey made a nice play on a wild pitch that caromed off the backstop and tagged Marsh out.
The Wolves had runners at second and third in the sixth inning, but squandered that chance on a botched squeeze play that saw pinch runner Cole Gunter erased in a rundown.
Locust Grove scored its two runs in the fourth inning. Gavin Lee singled and Trevor Sellers reached on an error. Both scored when designated hitter Will Dyer split the gap in left-center field with a two-run single.
Buford is the defending state champion. The Wolves defeated Locust Grove in the semifinals last year. Locust Grove beat the Wolves during the regular season.
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