The two teams had split a double-header on Saturday to force the deciding game. Locust Grove (33-5-1) won its first state championship. Defending champion Buford finished the season 32-5.
“That’s a senior kid,” Phillips said. “Coming into game we didn’t know how many innings we’d get out of him. He just bowed his neck and went out there and competed and gave us five strong innings. He worked out of two big-time jams, … Just huge for a senior kid to step up and get it done.”
Young allowed one run in five innings on six hits with three strikeouts and one walk.
The big inning for Young was the fourth, when he allowed only one run to score in a bases-loaded situation. He made a nice fielding play to force a runner at the plate, then struck out two to escape the jam.
“What I’ve always been told here was buckle down and do what I’ve got to do to get the out,” Young said. “Knowing that I had a defense behind that was going to make the play and do the right thing, it’s so much easier to pitch.”
There were numerous defensive gems for Locust Grove. The Wildcats turned a double play in the first and center fielder Joah Curry made a nice running catch in the gap and doubled a straying runner from first.
But the big play was in the fifth inning. With runners on first and second, Buford’s Griffin Jolliff blooped a fly ball into shallow left-center. The ball dropped in, but Curry was able to pick it up and fire it to third in time to beat Brandon Marsh. The umpire originally ruled Marsh safe, but after conferring with the rest of the crew decided to reverse the call.
Locust Grove’s Odlanier Rodriguez pitched the final two innings to get the save. He did not allow a hit and struck out the first four batters he faced.
Locust Grove scored a run in the fourth. Rodriguez singled, stole second and scored on a single by Trevor Sellers.
Buford tied the game 1-1 in the bottom half. Nick Wilhite walked, Jolliff singled and Justin Glover walked. Noah Ledford lined an RBI single to left, leaving the bases load. But the Wolves could inflict no further damage on Young.
The Wildcats went ahead by scoring twice in the fifth. With one out, Austin Moody and Curry walked and Moody scored when Colton Bailey singled to right. Curry scored on a wild pitch.
The losing pitcher was Frank Bradshaw, who allowed two runs in 4 1/3 innings on three hits, three walks and two strikeouts.
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