A furious last inning rally by Cartersville came up just short Tuesday evening at Buford in the opening game of their best-of-three GHSA Class AAAA quarterfinal series.
Trailing 6-3 going to the top of the seventh, the Hurricanes rallied for two runs and had the tying run on third with one out. The Wolves’ Austin Wilhite entered on the mound, however, and recorded a pair of strikeouts to thwart the Cartersville comeback attempt for a 6-5 win.
Buford took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on a fielder's choice after Anderson walked the bases loaded.
The Canes tied the game, 1-1, in the top of the third on an RBI groundout by Anthony Seigler. Anderson had doubled earlier in the frame and his courtesy runner, Seth Smith, scored on the groundout.
Four straight hits to open the bottom of the third gave Buford a lead they would not relinquish.
The Wolves plated three runs on three singles, a double, and a fielder's choice groundout to take a 4-1 advantage.
Cartersville narrowed the lead to 4-3 in the top of the fifth on a Seigler sac fly and a RBI hit by Parker Tidwell, but the Wolves regained their three run advantage in the sixth. Austin Wilhite and Nick Wilhite opened Buford's sixth inning with singles and moved to second third on an error. Griffin Joliff then doubled to drive home the two runs for a 6-3 lead.
The Canes threatened in the top of the seventh, but came up one run short. Anderson was hit by a pitch before Carrington Evans, Devin Warner, and Tidwell had three consecutive one-out singles that plated two runs in a 6-5 final score.
Buford starter, Justin Glover, picked up the pitching victory. The University of Georgia signee went five innings, allowing three earned runs on seven hits and three walks. He fanned seven. Canes’ starter, Elliott Anderson, suffered the pitching loss. The Auburn signee went 5 and 2/3 innings, yielding six earned runs on seven hits and nine walks. He struck out eight.
Joliff starred at the plate for the Wolves in Game 1. He walked twice and drove in three runs with a pair of doubles.
Austin Wilhite and Nick Wilhite both contributed a pair of hits for Buford. Glover drove in two runs with a hit.
Anderson had three hits and scored a run for the Canes’ offense. Tidwell drove in a run with two hits, and Zach Yancey finished with a pair of hits.
Seigler drove in two runs with a groundout and a sacrifice fly. Warner drove in one run with a hit. Evans and Jacob Fowler also had hits for the Canes.
Buford (28-3) and Cartersville play Game 2 of the series later Tuesday evening. Buford can advance to the state semifinals with a victory. Cartersville (19-12) seeks to extend the series to a rubber game on Wednesday.
The series winner meets the winner of the Eastside at St. Pius X series in the Class AAAA Final Four.