By Mark Blumen
Ola vs. Buford: Coach Stuart Chester took over for Buford Wolves longtime coach Tony Wolfe this year and knew it was time for change. But one thing remains the same; postseason success. This time playing a little of long ball and a little of small ball. The Wolves swept the Ola Mustangs in the quarterfinals 6-2 and 10-2 on Friday night.
“It’s a tribute to these guys accepting change,” Chester said. “We haven’t really done anything different, we are carrying on what coach Tony Wolfe has done for 21 years. Just to have the opportunity to be here at this school and in this system, I probably feel like I am the most blessed person in the world. It’s just an awesome place”
Buford fell behind 2-0 in the top of the first inning when the Mustangs took advantage of errors made by Buford. But Buford starter Ramsey David got out of the jam and he settled down. In the bottom of the second inning Brandon Joliff tied the game with a 2-run blast. Evan Place hit a two-run homer bringing the score 4-2. Place scored on a wild pitch in the fifth inning and Joliff added a run with a solo shot in the sixth. David went 6 1/3 innings with five hits, two walks, one earned run and three strikeouts. C.J. Couch came on and got the final two outs.
In game two, Sean Adams held Ola to three hits in five innings and Griffin Bonner finished up a 10-2 route with 2 scoreless innings. Buford broke open a 4-2 game with six runs in the sixth inning. Noah Ledford singled in one run in the top of the first. Buford broke a 1-1 tie in the top of the third inning without the benefit of a hit as Austin Turner walked, Griffin Price got on base via an error and Turner scored after a balk and a wild pitch to give the Wolves a 2-1 lead they’d not relinquish. Buford added a run in the fourth and fifth inning before the 6-run outburst. Adams and Bonner were in complete control from there on out.
“The kids have done a great job of just adjusting to having a new coach,” Chester said. Chester even had his 6’6″ 295-pound DH bunt on numerous occasions. “I knew in that situation Reese is prone to hit into a double play and he could get the runner to third and we could score on a passed ball and it worked and we did (score).” Chester was very proud of Joliff after his two homeruns in game one and outstanding defense in both games. “That’s what we have been waiting for,” Chester said. “He’s a good baseball player and to do what he does in the field and do what he did at the plate that’s awesome.”
Flowery Branch vs. Buford: After their route of Ola, Buford’s next opponent on the way to state was on Tuesday against region rival, Flowery Branch. Once again at home, Buford would not have an easy time this series. The Wolves took the series 3-2 and 1-0.
Game one saw Ramsey David go 6 ⅓ innings with nine strikeouts, allowing four hits and one run. Game one saw Buford capitalized off of Flowery Branch walking several Wolves. Evan Place had a RBI double in game one. Buford took this game 3-2.
Game two was a straight up battle of pitchers. Pitching a full game for the Wolves was senior Sean Adams. He had a stellar night striking out ten and allowing only one hit. One of his best performances all year. The game remained scoreless all the way until the seventh inning. Senior Grant James redeemed himself after struggling with his hitting recently by driving in the game winning run with a RBI single.
The Buford Wolves will take on a familiar foe Loganville in the State Championship game on Monday afternoon at UGA’s Foley Field in Athens.