WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — Buford's late-game rally fell short as top-ranked Houston County scored in the final inning and held on to win Game 2 of the Class 6A quarterfinals series, 7-6, at home on Monday.
The Bears' win forces the rubber match on Tuesday in Warner Robins. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.
If the Wolves win the series, they'll face a redemption semifinal series with Pope for a spot in the Class 6A state title game. Pope, who eliminated the Wolves in the second round last season, swept Evans, 8-4 and 9-6. By way of the GHSA coin toss that determines the home team when like seeds play, the Wolves or Houston County would play at Pope in Marietta next week.
Buford falls, 7-6, in Game 2 of the best of three series ...
Ultimately, after taking a 3-1 lead in the opening inning, the Wolves (27-8) found themselves in a hole in the 2nd inning, giving up five runs and falling behind, 6-3.
The big Bear inning, however, included a 2-RBI Andrew Dunford single and a Garrett Hortman three-run homer.
After the Houston County (28-5) spark, Buford's Riley Stanford and Parker Fulginiti combined for a two-hit, one-run game. The one run, though, was a solo shot in the top of the seventh inning that turned out to be the dagger for the Wolves.
The Wolves did chip away at the Bears' three-run lead, scoring one run in the fifth inning when Jackson Gaspard hit into a fielder's choice scoring Cannon Goldin.
In the sixth inning, Buford continued chopping, adding two more runs on a Kaden Martin single and Stan Zagrodnik walk with the bases loaded. But Houston County pitcher Carson Small struck out two straight to leave three Wolves stranded.
Buford also left two men on base in the seventh.
Parker Walsh was 4-for-4 to lead the Wolves, while Baughcum was 3-for-5, Standford was 2-for-2 with an RBI, and Martin went 2-for-4 with an RBI
Buford scores two in the seventh to win Game 1
Brant Baughcum's single in the seventh inning helped lift No. 2 Buford past top-ranked Houston County, 4-2, in Game 1 of the Class 6A quarterfinals series on the road Monday.
The game was a stalemate until Buford scored two runs in the sixth inning on solo home runs from Baughcum and Riley Stanford.
The Bears, however, answered with a two-run bottom half of the inning to knot the game, 2-2.
In the top of the seventh, with runners at first and second -- both via walks -- Baughcum's single to left field brought Andrew McMurry storming home from second base. A batter later after Parker Walsh advanced the third and Baughcum to second on a passed ball Kaden Martin's sacrifice fly was deep enough to advance Walsh across the plate for a 4-2 lead.
Jackson Gaspard, who allowed just two runs on five hits with five strikeouts, forced the Bears to ground out, fly out and strike out in the bottom of the inning to seal the win. Gaspard turned in a solid complete-game performance.
Baughcum was 3-for-4 with two RBIs, including the sixth inning deep ball, to lead the Wolves at the plate. Stanford finished 2-for-4 with one RBI.