After a disappointing offensive performance on Saturday at North Hall, the Buford baseball team had its bats clicking on all cylinders on Monday for a 14-3 victory over West Hall on Monday in Oakwood.
Third baseman Josh Bryan spearheaded the attack with two-run doubles in each of his two plate appearances in the first and second inning. Bryan finished the night with four RBI and scored two runs.
“I’ve just worked on seeing the ball better and tonight it all came together,” Bryan said.
The Wolves (19-4, 16-3 Region 7-AAA) batted around their order in both the first and second innings, as second baseman Austin Wilhite, left fielder Austin Upshaw, and Bryan scored two runs apiece in the first two innings.
Buford coach Tony Wolfe was relieved to see his offense back to into a rhythm. The Wolves were down to their final out of the first inning before they scored five runs on three hits.
A Bryan double brought home two runs, while first baseman Jake Higginbotham, right fielder Patrick Burnette and left fielder Dillon Satterfield recorded a RBI.
“Bryan is one of those guys when he’s hot, he’s real hot,” Wolfe said. “He was the only senior in the starting lineup tonight and he was swinging a big bat, especially in the first inning.
“I feel like his is the one who broke this game open early.”
The second inning saw more of the same in its top half.
Catcher Joey Bart kick started the scoring with an RBI-double. Bryan’s second two-RBI double of the game came one at-bat later, followed by hits that drove in runs from Higginbotham, pitcher Connor Bennett, Austin Wilhite center fielder Nick Wilhite and Griffin Jolliff.
Austin Wilhite finished 2 for 2 with three stolen bases and a RBI. Higginbotham and Upshaw scored twice and recorded an RBI.
The Spartans (9-13, 7-11 Region 7-AAA) settled into a groove once they had sustained the blow of Buford’s first two innings, as they outscored the Wolves 2-1 over the final three innings.
“I am proud of my team tonight,” West Hall coach Dustin Rennspies said. “They didn’t hang their heads out there and played until the end.”
The Spartans centerfielder Cameron Johnson got on base in all three of his plate appearances. He had a game-high three stolen bases and a run scored.
While the Wolves offense lit up the scoreboard early, establishing a 13-run lead after the first two innings, Bennett’s performance should not be lost.
Along with a double and two RBIs, Bennett struck out seven batters.
“He’s a good fastball-curveball pitcher, but tonight only the fastball was really working for him,” Wolfe said. “He has moved himself into a solid No. 3 pitcher for us.”
It’s having the third-best starter show speed and control, while the offense plates 15 runs in five innings that speaks to the depth of the Wolves’ showcase. Wolfe played every player on his lineup and had 18 players rotated in by the end of the third inning.
There may have been more individual talent on other Buford teams, but this years’ squad does not lack depth. Wolfe said he spends a lot of time trying to tweak his lineup and pitching so that everyone can get some playing time.
“Depth is one of our strengths,” Wolfe said. “Time will tell how that strength plays out in the playoffs.”
Buford hosts White County on Wednesday, while West Hall plays host to Fannin County.