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Gentry, Clay power Buford to sweep

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman. Buford's Mason Gentry is greeted at home plate following a home run during the first game against Calhoun on Wednesday. Gentry went 2-for-3 with three RBIs.

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman. Buford's Mason Gentry is greeted at home plate following a home run during the first game against Calhoun on Wednesday. Gentry went 2-for-3 with three RBIs.

BUFORD -- Mason Gentry had a home run and seven RBIs, while Sam Clay tossed a three-hitter in Game 1 and Buford swept Calhoun 12-1, 15-3 to advance to the state Class AA quarterfinals Wednesday.

In Game 1, the Buford pounced on Calhoun starter Landon Curtis early. The Wolves batted around in the first inning and, following RBI hits by Jamie Ritchie and Josh Heddinger, Clay provided the big hit of the inning with a two-RBI single to right for a 4-0 lead.

Buford batted around again in the second inning, extending its lead to 7-0 on RBIs from Gentry, Heddinger and Clay's third of the game.

Clay held the Yellow Jackets to one run on three hits with nine strikeouts. He kept Calhoun hitless until a single by John Schubert broke up a no-hit bid in the fourth inning.

"Sam really set the tone early on the mound and had couple of big hits, too," Buford head coach Tony Wolfe said. "To pitch like that in his first playoff outing was very impressive."

Buford added three runs in the bottom of the inning before Calhoun's Tyler King's home run spoiled Clay's shutout.

Gentry ended the game in the bottom of the fifth inning with a towering two-run blast down the left field line, invoking the mercy rule.

In Game 2, Gentry was 2-for-5 with four RBIs and Buford starter Jake Burnette scattered seven hits over six innings as the Wolves eliminated the defending state champions.

With Buford enjoying a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning, the Yellow Jackets finally broke through against Burnette. A pair of doubles and a home run by Calhoun catcher Weston McArthur cut the advantage to 4-3 -- and in the process ended Burnette's consecutive scoreless inning streak at 21.

That was as close as the Jackets got.

"When they cut the lead, Jake stayed within himself and battled hard," Wolfe said. "He settled down and threw great the rest of the way."

The Wolves tacked on a pair of runs in the fourth and fifth innings and Burnette, who fanned eight, held Calhoun to one hit over the next three innings. Buford exploded for seven runs in the seventh to complete the rout.

"We played well in all innings, but we didn't play perfect," Wolfe said. "Collectively we were really good. No one player had a monster game, but we've got guys up and down the lineup who can contribute."

Buford will host the winner of the Berrien County-Pierce County series in the quarterfinals.