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Stanton delivers crucial victory

SAVANNAH -- Like two years ago in the state baseball quarterfinals, Wesleyan's trip to South Georgia didn't start out well.

The Wolves lost a one-run game in the opener of a doubleheader at Pierce County in 2008, but went on to win the next two games and eventually claim the Class AA state title.

Can Wesleyan bounce back again this season and pull off a second title run since dropping to Class A?

The Wolves recovered from a 2-1 loss in eight innings Tuesday in Savannah to beat Calvary Day 8-1 and force a deciding third game today at noon against the Cavaliers.

Strother White was the hard-luck loser in the opener, but came back to hit a home run in the second game in backing Devin Stanton's strong pitching.

"It's a lot like Pierce County," Wesleyan coach Mike Shaheen said. "I hope it turns out the same way.

Kevin O'Leary will get the start for No. 2-ranked Wesleyan (23-9) in the deciding game against host Calvary Day. The Cavaliers (26-3) finished the regular season ranked No. 4.

O'Leary (5-2) was the winning pitcher when Wesleyan crushed No. 1-ranked Landmark Christian 19-4 in the deciding game of their three-game second-round match-up in Norcross last week.

The winner of today's game in Savannah will face No. 6 Brookstone (22-8) or No. 9 Holy Innocents' (24-8) in the semifinals on Monday. Those teams play a deciding game in Columbus today after Holy Innocents' bounced back from a 3-2 loss for a 3-1 victory Tuesday.

The Wolves, the Region 7-A champions, hit six homers in the deciding game against Landmark Christian and had scored 60 runs in their first five playoff games. But Calvary Day's John Carr (8-1) shut them down in the opener, out-dueling White.

The Cavaliers' winning run came on a single by Ross Howard in the first extra inning that drove in Beau Smith.

"Strother pitched great, but we just didn't hit," Shaheen said. "We let that first game slip away."

White (10-2) gave up just six hits -- all singles. But the senior right-hander didn't get the usual support from the Wesleyan offense.

Conor Welton drove in the Wolves' first-game run with one of his two hits. O'Leary also had two singles and Mason Colquitt doubled for the game's only extra-base hit.

Calvary Day, the Region 3-A winner, won its first four playoff games by a 44-6 margin. But White nearly stopped them in the first game and Stanton did in the second game.

The senior left-hander limited the Cavaliers to three singles and had seven strikeouts to four walks.

"Devin was lights out," Shaheen said.

White had three hits and four RBIs, his two-run homer in the third inning breaking the game open.

Daniel Cardwell and Gardner Heaner each had two hits and a RBI for the Wolves, who won the Class A state title last season after claiming the Class AA championship in 2008.