Noah Ledford smacked a two-run homer, sophomore Ramsey David pitched a complete-game, one-hitter with seven strikeouts, and fifth-ranked Buford resumed Region 8-AAAAA play Monday with a 9-1 win against Flowery Branch at Gerald McQuaig Field.
Wolves coach Tony Wolfe had no complaints from his end after watching the Wolves (15-8, 7-0 Region 8-AAAAA) get the first bite out of what he considers to be their toughest string of games through the latter half of the regular season.
“It’s good to get back in the region and play well like we did today,” said Wolfe.
Buford overcame a slow start by compiling 11 of its 12 hits in the first four innings, its biggest the blast by Ledford (2 for 4) in the bottom of the third to make it 4-0.
Two pitches after Austin Turner (2 for 4, RBI) reached on a leadoff single, Ledford redirected a ball deep and well over the left-field center wall. Ledford flung his clenched right fist in the air as he rounded first to bring the crowd to an uproar and clear the home dugout.
Wolfe quipped that Ledford, who hit three home runs for the Wolves last season, had been pressing for a good while to get that first dinger out of the way.
"He's come close a bunch, and just hadn't gotten one up this year," Wolfe added. "But that was really nice. ...He's kind of got the monkey off his back, I think. To go through the 23rd game (of the year) without a home run is a long stretch for someone who considers himself a power guy.”
It took a few at-bats for the Wolves to adjust to Flowery Branch’s Preston Felt, who first got out of a mini jam in the bottom of the first after watching Nathan Haynes reach on a strikeout and then advance to second on a throwing error by the catcher. Anthony Grutadaurio’s throwout at third base erased Buford’s first chance of a run.
But the Wolves, in the very next frame, sniffed out a bevy of pitches low in the zone, sneaking singles through Flowery Branch’s infield. Hits by Christian Griffin (2 for 3, two RBI, run scored) and Garrison Price (1 for 4, RBI, run scored) plated the Wolves’ first-two runs of the day.
The Falcons’ lone opportunity to match the Wolves on the board came in the top of the second, as a hit batter to start the inning and one-out walk put two runners on. But the Wolves’ pitcher took care of the threat himself, turning a ground ball hit to the mound, and then getting Grutadaurio to take a called third strike with a slider that hugged the inside corner of the plate to end the inning.
“(David) loves to have the ball and pitch in big games,” Wolfe said. “Even though he’s a young guy — a sophomore — he really enjoys these kind of moments and atmosphere. I thought he stepped up and threw the ball really well for us.”
After reaching first on a walk, A.J. Gonzalez later scored for the Falcons only run of the afternoon off a fielder’s choice. And a Andrew Curtain leadoff single the very next frame broke up David’s bid for a no-hitter.
Buford wraps up the two-game series with Flowery Branch (11-11, 3-4) on Wednesday at the Hog Mountain Sports Complex, then directs its attention to perennial power and now fellow region frontrunner Loganville this Friday.
“We’ve got some work to do, but right now, we’re even with (Loganville) and we see them Friday and Monday, but we’ve gotta take care of Wednesday first,” said Wolfe.