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Buford overcomes seven errors

Photo: Andrew McMurtrie. Buford High School's Tyler White, right, celebrates with his team after he hit a grand slam in the fourth inning to take the 4-3 lead over Greater Atlanta Christian School on Friday in Norcross.

Photo: Andrew McMurtrie. Buford High School's Tyler White, right, celebrates with his team after he hit a grand slam in the fourth inning to take the 4-3 lead over Greater Atlanta Christian School on Friday in Norcross.

NORCROSS -- It is normally easy to tell the winner of a baseball game in which one team commits seven errors, while the other plays error-free ball.

Those numbers were quite deceiving in Friday's Region 6-AA contest between Buford and Greater Atlanta Christian.

The No. 2 state-ranked Wolves overcame seven miscues in the field with some clutch hitting from Tyler White and Brian Clark and clutch pitching from Josh Heddinger and Jake Burnette to escape with a 7-5 road win at Albert C. Hester Field.

"I can't remember one," Buford (11-1, 5-0) coach Tony Wolfe said when asked if could remember a game in which his team committed so many errors and won. "That's about as poorly as we can play defensively. Obviously, I did not do a good job of getting us ready to play. I'll take responsibility for that.

"I'm proud of those guys. I like their competitiveness, but we've got to get better (defensively)."

GAC (8-4, 3-2) cashed in on four of those errors -- two in the first and two more in the third -- for three unearned runs, the last of which came home on Hayden Melson's RBI single in the bottom of the third that gave the Spartans a 3-0 lead.

It seemed that would be plenty for John LaMay, who had allowed just one hit and struck out four in the first three Buford at bats.

But the Wolves turned the game around in the fourth inning, especially when White strode to the plate after Jamie Ritchie drew a leadoff walk and Troy Herterick and Mason Gentry followed with singles to load the bases.

The Buford leftfielder jumped on LaMay's 1-0 offering and sent a towering drive over the fence in straightaway center for a grand slam, vaulting the Wolves into a 4-3 lead.

That lead remained intact even after GAC loaded the bases with nobody out on a double by Will Parker an error and a walk to Rafe Chapple in the bottom of the inning.

Ironically, it was a key defensive play that helped Buford get out of the inning after Heddinger buckled down and struck out Patrick Schultz and Robby McPherson.

LaMay sent a wicked liner up the middle that Heddinger managed to get a glove on and deflect behind the mound.

Zac Lynn, who had been inserted in the game at the beginning of the inning as a defensive replacement, came up with the ball and fired just in time to get LaMay at first to end the inning with the Wolves still up 4-3.

"The difference in the game is the inning we had the bases loaded and no outs and we didn't score," GAC coach Cliff Shelton said. "The difference in the game is us not executing with the bases loaded. If we get a hit there, I think we've got them by the throat."

The Spartans did, however, rally to tie the game 4-4 with another unearned run on an outfield error on Schultz's single in the bottom of the sixth.

But with runners on first and second and one out in the top of the seventh, the left-handed hitting Clark saw Melson playing well off the line in left field and steered a double into the corner to put Buford back on top 5-4.

"A fan told me (about the room in left field), and I told him I heard him," said Clark, who finished 2-for-3. "Luckily, I got a pitch I could take the other way, and I took advantage of it. I was just looking for anything to hit hard."

The Wolves scored twice more on Ritchie's RBI single and Herterick's sacrifice fly, before Burnette (2-0) pitched around a Greg Burland's RBI double in the seventh to close out the win.

Burland and Melson each had two hits to lead GAC.