In the minutes following the Buford High baseball team’s state semifinal sweep against Flowery Branch last week, junior pitcher Sean Adams wasn’t coy about which team he hoped to face for the state title.
“I think we want to get Loganville, another piece of Loganville,” he said with a smile.
Adams and the Wolves got just what they wanted.
After losing a pair of regular-season games against Loganville, Buford will take on its Region 8-5A rival for a best-of-three series at the University of Georgia’s Foley Field in Athens, beginning with a doubleheader at 5 p.m. Monday. If Game 3 is necessary, the teams will return to Athens on Wednesday at a time to be determined.
Both the second-seeded Wolves (28-11) and top-seeded Red Devils (33-6) have won state titles in recent years — Loganville is the defending Class 5A champion, while Buford claimed the Class 4A trophy in 2015 and came two runs short of another one the following season.
“It should be a good series,” said first-year Wolves coach Stuart Chester. “Loganville is a really good team, and we have a ton of respect for them. But in the championship, anything can happen.”
One thing is certain: The winner will take home its fourth state championship.
Buford earned titles in 1977 and 2011, and Chester will be aiming for the seventh of his career following a long stay at powerhouse Cartersville. The Red Devils, meanwhile, have won all three of their state championships since 2008.
That gives this best-of-three series all the makings of what should be a tight battle between two of Georgia’s premier programs.
Indeed, both squads pulled off sweeps in all four rounds of this year’s tournament, yet each was tested in the semifinals. While Loganville notched a pair of 4-1 victories against Starr’s Mill, the Wolves grinded out wins of 3-2 and 1-0 against region foe Flowery Branch.
Both of Buford’s semifinal triumphs were pitchers’ duels that came down to the seventh inning. The Wolves rallied from a one-run deficit in Game 1 before nine-hole hitter Grant James broke a scoreless tie by driving in the only run of Game 2.
Against a hard-hitting Loganville team that scored nine or more runs three times in the playoffs, Buford will lean on its pair of junior pitchers that excelled in the semifinals.
Adams tossed his first-ever complete game, striking out 11 batters while giving up just one hit and allowing no walks. Ramsey David permitted just one earned run over 6⅓ innings in Game 1, during which he recorded 10 strikeouts.
They’ll be responsible for limiting Loganville, which found success at the plate in April wins of 4-2 and 8-1 against the Wolves.
Though Buford is eager to exact revenge against the Red Devils, Chester’s players are already guaranteed an experience of a lifetime in the state championship series.
“We’ve got so many University of Georgia fans on the team,” Chester said. “(Seniors Garrison and Griffin Price) may not sleep. They’re going to school there, and whether they play ball there or not, they’ll get to play on Foley Field (this week).
“Just the state and the history of Georgia athletics over there, it’s an honor to go there.”