Wednesday November 25th, 2015 3:25PM

Baseball: Buford faces Game 3 do-or-die battle with Pike Co.

By Luke Story
BUFORD -- If Tuesday was any indication, Wednesday should be one for the memory books.

Buford and Pike County dueled to a draw in their series-opening doubleheader in the Class AAA quarterfinals at Gerald McQuaig Field, putting on a display of pitching that set up an intriguing, winner-take-all Game 3 showdown.

The two squads have faced each other four times in the state playoffs since 2006, and the fifth chapter of the rivalry -- not yet complete -- was written from the mound. Both teams combined for a total of 41 strikeouts, 26 from Buford pitchers.

The Wolves took a 3-1 victory in Game 1, only to watch the Pirates eek out a 1-0 win to force Game 3 at 5:55 p.m. Wednesday.

Buford will place the ball in the hands of Kevin Coulter for the winner-take-all showdown.

"We are focus on tomorrow," Wolfe said. "We are one game away from making the final four and if you would have asked us this morning, we would have taken that."

GAME 1: Buford 3, Pike County 1

"Jake [Higginbotham] was his usual special self on the mound today," Buford head coach Tony Wolfe said.

Was he ever.

Higginbotham, the junior left-hander (8-0, 0.68 ERA) controlled game 1 from the mound with a combo of untouchable pitches, much as he has done throughout the season. In a complete game effort, Higginbotham fanned 12, giving up six hits and surrendering just one run -- a run that came in the seventh inning.

Offensively, the Wolves struggled to find a consistent stride against Pike County's own strong starter in right-hander Andy Marshall (3 runs, 3 strikeouts, 5 hits in Game 1).

All of Buford's scoring came in the second inning -- an inning that resulted in three runs and four hits, all of which were singles.

Nick Wilhite sparked the mini-rally for Buford in the inning with a single up the middle. One batter later, Hunter Puckett singled to centerfield, placing runners on first and second. The bottom half of the line-up came through in the clutch, as both Patrick Burnette and Ben Wicker sent rockets to left field for RBI singles. Austin Wilhite then capped the Wolves scoring with an RBI sac fly to right field that scored Burnette from third.

Three runs in the second was all the scoring the Wolves needed to capture the victory.

The lone Pirates run came in the seventh inning courtesy a RBI ground-rule double off the bat of Will Clark, but it was the one exception to Higginbotham's domination.

Game 2: Pike County 1, Buford 0

Connor Bennett picked up where Higginbotham left off for the Wolves, tossing a complete game while striking out 14 Pike County batters and allowing just three hits in Game 2.

The one run proved enough for the Pirates, however, as they held Buford scoreless for the first time this season.

The scoreboard stayed blank for six-and-a-half innings. Unfortunately, for the Wolves a dropped ball in left field, with two outs, allowed Pike County to break the deadlock. Buford had fought back to gain two outs after putting runners on base with a hit-by-pitch and an intentional walk.
© Copyright 2015
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
2014 Top 10: Looking back at the top sports stories of the year
It was another year for the record books in 2014, mostly for the right reasons -- state championships, new challenges and new stars taking their turn to shine. But there were also plenty of big stories that reminded us that sports -- like life -- isn
11:55PM ( 10 months ago )
NASCAR K&N Pro Series schedules set for 2015
DAYTONA BEACH, FL - NASCAR announced recently the 2015 schedules for its top developmental regional touring series, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.
2:00PM ( 10 months ago )
Lanierland boys final: Johnson makes history with win over Red Elephants <b> (VIDEO) </b>
Ever the aggressor on the court, Johnson
8:55AM ( 10 months ago )
Lanierland boys semifinals: Unbeatens Johnson, Red Elephants roll into finals
Both Gainesville and Johnson powered their way into the Lanierland Tournament finals on Monday. The two undefeated teams will meet Tuesday for the title at 8:30 p.m. at Chestatee.
10:01AM ( 10 months ago )
Lanierland girls semifinals: GHS, Lady Falcons advance to finals <b> (VIDEO) </b>
Flowery Branch and Gainesville each took impressive wins Monday to advance to the Lanierland Tournament finals...
10:00AM ( 10 months ago )
Girls basketball: Lady Tigers advance to Pickens Holiday finals
The Dawson County girls basketball advanced to the finals of the Pickens Holiday Classic after an 81-54 win over Riverwood Monday.
11:48PM ( 10 months ago )
High School Sports
Wolves proving early skeptics wrong
It’s hard to imagine a Buford team having to play with a chip on its shoulder. But if ever there has been a collective group of Wolves that felt the need, the 2015 squad is it.
5:14PM ( 1 hour from now )
Marshall brothers add turkey to Georgia-Ga Tech rivalry
The Georgia-Georgia Tech rivalry this year will feature a Thanksgiving feast that brings opposing players to the same dinner table.
10:52AM ( 4 hours ago )
Boys basketball: Discovery knocks off White County for Turkey Shootout title
Discovery won the boys Turkey Shootout Tournament at Chestatee High Tuesday with a 71-61 victory over White County in the finals.
By The Associated Press
12:16AM ( 15 hours ago )
Boys basketball: Lions take out Vikings for Piedmont Classic crown
The Lakeview Academy boys basketball team knocked off East Hall 87-69 on Tuesday to claim the Piedmont College Hardwood Classic title in Demorest.
By AccessWDUN Staff
12:07AM ( 15 hours ago )
Girls basketball: East Hall knocks off Lakeview for Piedmont title
The East Hall girls basketball team continued its strong start to the season on Tuesday, pushing past Lakeview Academy 61-51 to claim the Piedmont College Hardwood Classic in Demorest.
By AccessWDUN Staff
11:58PM ( 15 hours ago )