BUFORD -- North Hall was looking to continue its rise up the Region 7-AAA standings Monday at Buford.
The Wolves were looking to keep a share of first place with next week's showdown with fellow region unbeaten White County looming on the horizon.
Buford shortstop Austin Upshaw provided the answer with two hits, including a towering three-run home run, and four RBI to lead the Wolves to a 9-2 win over the Trojans at McQuaig Field.
Buford (10-0, 7-0 Region 7-AAA) moved one-half game ahead of the Warriors, who were playing at Fannin County Monday, with the victory. The loss dropped the Trojans (7-5, 5-2) into a third-place tie with West Hall.
The two teams will complete their home-and-home series Wednesday at Jody Davis Field at North Hall.
The Buford lineup as a whole roughed up two North Hall pitchers, with the top and bottom of the lineup combining for five hits, three walks, and scoring six runs. The Wolves took control with a seven-run second inning.
"We feel like our lineup is good from top to bottom but it's nice when the guys that set the table get things started," Buford coach Tony Wolfe said. "We got some momentum going in the second inning and we got the big hits, especially from Austin."
Drew Coker took the brunt of the damage for North Hall, allowing four hits and six runs in one-plus innings of work. Josh Hammonds threw the final six innings for the Trojans with mixed results. He only allowed two hits over the final four innings but gave up the two key hits in the second inning on back-to-back pitches.
It will make for an interesting rematch Wednesday when both teams are expected to throw their staff aces, though neither coach would announce Wednesday's starters.
"North Hall is a tough place to get a win so we'll have to play at our best (Wednesday)," Wolfe said. "This was a nice win for us but it's just one. We have have to show up ready to play every game."
North Hall went down in order in the first and then the Buford offense quickly went to work against Coker. Austin Wilhite walked to lead off and then Nick Wilhite singled to right putting runners at second and third with no one out. Joey Bart knoked in Austin Wilhite on a sacrifice fly Austin Upshaw followed with an RBI single scoring Nick Wilhite for a 2-0 lead. North Hall's Andrew Smith kept it from being a bigger inning with two nice plays at shortstop to end the inning.
The Trojans got their first hit in the second on a Stephen Murray flare to left but Coulter struck out the side to end the inning.
The Wolves offense went back to work in the bottom of the second. Bayne Miller singled to left, Ben Wicker followed with a bunt single, and Austin Wilhite walked to load the bases with no one out. Nick Wilhite walked driving in Miller knocking Coker from the game.
Hammond, did not fare much better. Bart took his first offering to center for a two-run single giving Buford a 5-0 lead. Upshaw took Hammond's next pitch deep to right for a three-run home run and an 8-0 lead. Miller finished off the seven-run inning with a RBI single for a 9-0 lead.
North Hall finally got something going in the third inning. After Taber Mongero survived a scary foul ball while in the ondeck circle, he singled with one out and then scored on a bases loaded walk by Micah Strickland. Lincoln Hewett added a RBI sacrifice fly scoring Smith to cut the lead to 9-2.
Hammonds and Keyton Gibson, who relieved Coulter to start the fifth, took control the rest of the way. Gibson yielded just one hit and one walk over the final three innings for Buford.
Upshaw, Hunter Puckett, Miller, and Wicker each had two hits for the Wolves. Austin Wilhite and Nick Wilhite combined for four runs scored at the top of the order for Buford.
Mongero finished with two hits and scored once to lead North Hall at the plate.