HOOVER, ALA. — The Buford varsity baseball team competed in the eighth annual Perfect Game High School Showdown – Academies tournament March 4 through 6, held at the Hoover Met Sports Complex in Hoover, Ala. Twenty-seven of the best high school teams from Alabama, Florida and Georgia participated in the three-day event. The Wolves walked away as the PG High School Showdown Blue Bracket Champions.
On the road to capturing the trophy, Buford took down the Thompson Warriors (Ala.) 4-2, Hartselle Tigers (Ala.) 2-0, Providence Christian Stallions (Jacksonville, Fla.) 12-2 and Spanish Fort Toros (Ala.) 7-6.
The Wolves averaged .353 at bat during the three days. Senior Nate Smith, a Tennessee commit, was one of the top batters for Buford, averaging .500 during the tournament. He was 6-for-12 with a double and two triples. Smith managed to score five runs and earn three RBIs.
While Buford did well offensively, it was Buford’s pitchers who really shined. The team averaged an impressive 2.0 ERA in Hoover. Buford’s pitchers collectively struck out 38 opponents and walked 12 in their four games.
“Our pitching staff continues to give us opportunities to win,” Buford head coach Stuart Chester said.
Two of the team’s standout pitchers for the tournament were senior Treyton Rank and junior Dylan Lesko. Rank, who will play for Florida State University next year, would strike out eight in five innings and allow no runs. Lesko struck out 13 batters in six innings and did not give up any walks or runs. The Vanderbilt commit also hit a home run during the team’s first game against Thompson. Lesko was named the Most Valuable Pitcher for the tournament.
Spanish Fort was the toughest challenge for Buford, as it was their closest game to date. Buford gave up as many runs in that game as they had in their previous nine games combined.
Coach Chester prefers to constantly challenge his players and this tournament was no exception.
“We played four games in a 36-hour period,” he said. “This was a tough tournament that put us in some adverse situations that we hope we can draw from down the road.”
After its success in Alabama, Buford (11-0, 4-0) rose one position in the Perfect Game High School rankings to land at the No. 3 team in the nation.
The Wolves carried the same high level of performance they have shown thus far this season to Lanier High School, where they shut out their region opponent 7-0 on Monday night. The Wolves will face the Longhorns again Wednesday at home and again at Lanier on Thursday. Both games have a start time of 5:55 p.m.