CLEVELAND -- The Buford baseball team is trying to take as much of the drama out of the chase for a Region 7-AAA title as possible.
The Wolves used a five-run first inning to grab a quick lead and then cruised behind ace Jake Higginbotham to take a 7-0 win over White County Wednesday.
With the win, Buford (15-0, 11-0 Region 7-AAA) leads the Warriors (13-3, 8-3) and North Hall by three games at the halfway point in the regular season.
However, you won't catch Buford coach Tony Wolfe admitting to anything of the sort.
"There is still alot of baseball left to go," Wolfe said. "I like where we are after 11 games (in the region) but anything can happen. We're just taking things one game at a time.
"If you take out that first inning this game could have gone either way. We're not taking anything for granted."
Higginbotham got all he needed from the offense in the first and set the tone in the bottom of the first striking out the the side. He scattered three hits and fanned 14 while walking none in a complete-game effort.
"Jake pitched very well I thought," Wolfe said. "There were a couple of innings where (White County) looked like they were getting something going but Jake shut the door on them. I was pleased with how he threw the ball."
Higginbotham was tough from the beginning. He struck out the side in the first and retired eight of the first nine batters. The Warriors did not get their first hit until Joel Pritchett singled to center with two out in the third.
Pritchett, who started and went six innings for the Warriors, was not as sharp at the start and that was the difference. The first five Buford batters reached base in the first inning with Austin Upshaw and Hunter Puckett sandwiching a pair of two-run singles around a bases loaded walk to Griffin Jolliff for a quick 5-0 lead.
It could have been worse but Pritchett was able to get a key strikeout and get out of the inning without further damage. He settled down after that retiring seven of the next nine batters, including four strikeouts, going into the fourth inning.
After the first inning Pritchett yielded just five hits and three runs over the next five innings. Trey Cantrell pitched a scoreless seventh for White County working around two hits.
Buford added a run in the fourth when Patrick Burnette singled to start, stole second, and later scored on a RBI double by Nick Wilhite for a 6-0 lead.
White County had chances to cut into the lead. Spencer Adams led off the bottom of the fourth with a double but was stranded there after Higginbotham fanned the next two and got a weak grounder to third to end the inning.
Tray Gearin doubled to lead off the fifth but Higginbotham struck out the side to leave him standing at second.
The Wolves extended their lead to 7-0 in the sixth on a RBI single from pinch-hitter Kayden Berrett scoring Burnette, who doubled with two out.
Nick Wilhite, Joey Bart, Upshaw, Jake Mayo, and Burnette each had two hits for Buford.
The two teams will meet again Friday in Buford in the back end of their home-and-home series.