Locust Grove wins Class AAAA state title
By Tim Morse
Georgia Dugout Preview
BUFORD -- Joah Curry claims it took him less than five seconds to sprint from center field to the celebration at the pitchers mound.
It may have been less than that.
When second baseman Trevor Sellers speared a ground ball and flipped to first base for the game’s final out, it was official - Locust Grove captured its first state baseball championship, topping Buford 3-1 in Game 3 of the best-of-three Class AAAA series at Gerald McQuaig Field on Monday.
The Wildcats scored a pair of runs in the fifth inning to break a 1-all tie, then Odlanier Rodriguez worked a pair of scoreless innings to preserve Christian Young’s victory as Locust Grove claimed its first title in the school’s seven-year history.
Locust Grove denied Buford (32-5) a chance to win back-to-back titles.
“It’s awesome,” Curry said. “You might not ever get this chance again. You might not be able to play baseball again. But to be able to win a state title, it’s the greatest feeling ever.”
Young and Rodriguez cut down a potent Buford offense, combing to allow just a run on six hits.
Trevor Sellers gave the Wildcats (33-5-1) the lead in the fourth inning when his RBI single scored Rodriguez, who had singled to lead off the inning.
But Buford quickly answered to tie in its half of the fourth on an RBI single from Noah Ledford. The Wolves loaded the bases and threatened to break the game open off Young. However, the senior struck out the final two batters to escape further damage.
However, Locust Grove scratched home a pair of runs in the fifth. Colton Bailey’s RBI single scored a run, then Curry stole home on a wild pitch for a 3-1 advantage.
Buford threatened again in the fifth. Brandon Marsh singled and Nick Wilhite reached on an error before Griffin Jolliff lifted a lazy single that fell in shallow center field for a single.
Curry quickly picked up the ball and fired to third base to force Marsh out at third. Game officials first ruled that Marsh was safe, but when Locust Grove coach Stephen Phillips appealed, the call was reversed.
Young then got a pop fly to left field to get out of the inning unscathed.
Rodriguez said the Wildcats had plenty of faith in their senior pitcher.
“From the beginning, we knew he was going to do a great job,” Rodriguez said. “He won games throughout the whole playoffs when we needed him. I trusted him a lot.”
After the fifth inning, Buford never got a runner into scoring position again. The hard-throwing Rodriguez shut down the Wolves in the final two innings, then a wild celebration on the field erupted.
“It’s crazy man,” Phillips said. “I give God the glory.
“I wanted to win, I’d be crazy if I said I didn’t, but I wanted it more for these kids and for this community because this community has really backed us. You see this crowd? That is an hour and 30 minutes away for these people to be willing to drive up and watch us play. This is huge not only for our school and our kids, but it’s huge for the community as well. Do you know where Locust Grove is? That’s what everybody asks. Now, everybody knows where Locust Grove is.”