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Lions rally to end Buford's hopes

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Lewisville tops BHS in baseball Class A playoffs

By Ernie Rowell

RICHBURG  Buford battled to the finish, but the Jackets fell short in an 8-5 season-ending loss to Lewisville on Wednesday night at the Lions’ field.

The Jackets’ three-run loss foiled their hopes of a Class A Upper State baseball championship. Lewisville advances to face Chesterfield today, needing to defeat the host Rams twice to move to the Class A state title series next week.

Buford, which has developed a flair for dramatic comeback wins in its postseason run this spring, rallied from a 4-1 deficit to forge a 5-4 edge, but the Jackets couldn’t protect it for the coveted win.

“Our players have been resilient in the playoffs,” Buford baseball coach Eric Funderburk said. “Our never say die attitude has carried us in our postseason run, and today we fought to the end, but fell short.”

BHS, which finished 13-12, trailed 4-1 after three innings after the Lions’ Brendan van Nostrand hit a two-run homer. Two innings prior, Ken Greene smashed a two-run shot.

In the BHS third, catcher Joe Wright drove in a run, reaching on a fielder’s choice to make it 4-1.

In the fourth, the Jackets rallied to tie the game at 4-all. Donald Kirkley drilled a two-run double and Justin Altman stalemated the game on a sacrifice.

Kirkley, who had two hits and three runs batted in, gave BHS a 5-4 edge with a RBI-hit in the top of the fifth.

The Lions, who split with BHS during two regular-season meetings, roared back with Will Robbins’ two-run double keying a three-run rally for a 7-5 lead in the LHS fifth. An inning later, the 23-7 Lions added an insurance run to seal the win.

“It came down to who could get the last big hit and Lewisville came through,” Funderburk said. “We fought to the final out, but it wasn’t our night. Lewisville deserves credit, but I’m real proud of our guys and they way they played.

“We went from a team which needed a late-season win to get the fourth-place playoff bid to the final three teams left in the Upper State championship series. Our fan support was tremendous and gave us a spark.”

BHS was backed by a 12-hit attack, with Kirkley leading the way. Britt Wells, Dillon Hydrick and Ricky Lewis had two hits each. Justin Altman and Joseph Wright each had a hit and drove in a run. Colt Ellis and Logan Segee supplied a hit apiece.

Hydrick, in four innings, allowed four runs, three hits, three walks and hit a batter. He fanned one in taking the loss. Colt Ellis hurled 1.1 frames, allowing five hits, four runs, a walk and hit a batter. Lewis hurled two-thirds of an inning and yielded a walk.

Funderburk, in his first season, said he was pleased.

“Our seniors have given us tremendous leadership and we will miss them,” he said. “They’ve given us a good example to follow. We have a good, solid nucleus coming back and this season is one to build on for the future.

“We had some early growing pains, but we’ve grown and improved,” Funderburk said. “We exceeded the expectations. The work of coach Joe Wright over the last few seasons made a difference with this team.”

The BHS seniors are Justin Altman, Gavin Flynn, Brandon Haile, Cheyne Horne, Donald Kirkley, Dwayne Ray and Joseph Wright.