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Sunday May 29th, 2016 5:26PM

Baseball: Wolves pound out win over West Hall

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter
BUFORD -- It's all about the focus right now for the Buford baseball team.

A looming showdown with White County next week seems enticing for a team that has rolled through the early part of the Region 7-AAA schedule. But after a workman-like 10-0, five inning win over West Hall Friday at McQuaig Field, you wouldn't know they have even thought about it.

"Our kids follow what is going on, but this group knows that you can't look past anyone," Buford coach Tony Wolfe said. "It would be easy to do that on rainy days like (Friday) but they knew West Hall is good enough to beat them. I was real pleased with how we came out ready to play."

Conner Bennett was nearly untouchable on the mound for the Wolves (12-0, 9-0 Region 7-AAA). The Spartans, who came in averaging nearly 11 runs over their last four games, did not get their first base runner until Brian Newman reached in the fifth after getting hit by Bennett. He retired the first 13 West Hall batters and allowed just one hit, a single by Will Simmons in the fifth inning, and struck out four in the complete-game win.

"Conner threw lights out against a good lineup," Wolfe said. "Those guys have been hitting the ball well but Conner had a tremendous curveball working to keep them off-balance."

Simmons pitched well for the Spartans (10-4, 6-3) who saw their four-game win streak come to an end. Simmons allowed eight hits and eight runs, but only four were earned. He trailed just 3-0 going into the fifth inning.

The Wilhite twins, Austin and Nick, helped set up the offense going a combined 2-for-5 with two walks and four runs scored and were on base six times.

"They bring an element of speed we haven't had in a while and they have all the tools out on the baseball field. They're fun to watch," Wolfe said.

Buford grabbed a 1-0 in the first inning playing old-fashioned baseball. Austin Wilhite reached on an infield single, stole second, moved to third on a groundout, and scored on a wild pitch by Simmons with two out.

After the first, Simmons retired eight of the next nine batters into the third inning. But he plunked Austin Wilhite and walked Nick Wilhite with one out and after a Joey Bart groundout, Austin Wilhite scored his second run of the game on another Simmons wild pitch for a 2-0 lead.

The Wolves looked poised for a big inning in the fourth with runners at second and third and one out after a Hunter Puckett single and Bennett double. But Simmons got out of the jam allowing just one run on a Patrick Burnette single for a 3-0 lead.

The Spartans had their best chance in the fifth. After Newman reached on the hit batter, Simmons followed with a single to left to break up the no-hitter. But Bennett got out of the jam when Michael Cronic lined a screamer to Austin Wilhite at second, who then doubled off Newman at second to end the inning.

Buford put the game away in the bottom of the fifth taking advantage of three West Hall errors to with seven hits. Bart would double in Nick Wilhite, who singled to start things, and then he scored on an error. Bennett knocked in Perlotte, Burnette singled in Puckett, and Bennett and Burnette scored on the third West Hall error of the inning. Bart finished it with a single to left scoring Austin Wilhite.

The two teams will meet again Monday at West Hall in the back-half of their home-and-home series.

West Hall now sits tied with North Hall (8-6, 6-3), which stunned previously-unbeaten White County 11-6 on Friday, for third place. Buford now holds a two game lead over the Warriors (11-1, 6-1).
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