The Buford baseball team lost its first two games in the Final Four series against Pope High School on Saturday, May 14, allowing the team from Marietta to eliminate the Wolves for the second consecutive year.

The first game of the series saw Pope take an early 2-0 at the end of the first inning. Brant Baughcum hit a solo home run to get Buford on the board in the top of the fourth, and Cannon Goldin followed it with a two-run single to propel the Wolves into the lead.

In the same inning, however, the Greyhounds capitalized on their opportunities at bat and the fourth inning closed with a 6-3 scoreline.

The Wolves fought back in the top of the fifth as Parker Walsh knocked a two-run homer out of the park, but Buford gave away two unearned runs in the bottom of the fifth and sixth, which allowed Pope to claim the first victory.

“No doubt in game one, we didn’t play well on defense,” said Buford head coach Stuart Chester. “There were two or three situations where if we make the play, we probably win game one … They capitalized on the mistakes that we made.”

Game two was not a strong start for the demoralized Buford team, and they gave away six unanswered runs in the first two innings.

Kaden Martin started to build some momentum for the Wolves in the fifth inning with a two-run homer. A single RBI by Baughcum followed by a Pope error brought Buford back into the game with a score of 7-4.

Unfortunately for Buford, that was all the momentum the team could muster, and the final 8-4 score marked the end to the Wolves’ strong season.

Buford fought hard throughout the season, dealing with various injuries that restricted standouts such as Baughcum, Jackson Gaspard and Riley Stanford, as well as more severe injuries to starting designated hitter Carson King and pitcher Dylan Lesko.

“I don’t know if I have ever been more proud of a group of young men than this group,” Chester said. “I’ve said this my whole career, I don’t care how talented you are, there are two or three things you’ve got to have. One of them is you’ve got to be healthy, and we were not.”

Buford ended its season with a solid record of 28-10.

The GHSA AAAAAA state baseball championship will begin with a double-header between Pope and Allatoona on Thursday, May 19, at Truist Park.

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