By Jay Tidwell/Special to the Journal
NEW ALBANY – When D.K. Buford is in a groove, things go very well for Lafayette.
And the junior was in a comfortable rhythm on Friday night.
Buford batted 3 for 5 with a double and five RBIs and Luke Stanley pitched a complete game to lead the Commodores to a 12-3 win against New Albany in Game 1 of their MHSAA Class 4A baseball quarterfinals series.
“I have settled down,” said Buford, a junior outfielder who bats left and throws right. “When it looks like a strike, I’ll get it. I’m just getting into a groove. It was a rough start to the season, but as it’s progressed, I’ve gotten better and better.”
Buford’s hit in the fifth inning scored Stanley and Tyler Mize and highlighted a four-run frame that helped Lafayette (18-10) overtake New Albany and go in front 5-3.
In the seventh, Buford knocked a bases-clearing double that scored three runs and put Lafayette comfortably ahead.
Things came unraveled for New Albany (25-9) defensively in the fifth. The Bulldogs, the No. 2 seed from Division 2-4A, committed three errors that led to runs by their district foes.
“We were going to try to run it and see if they would throw it around a little bit, and they happened to do it,” said Lafayette coach Greg Lewis. “Our guys started to put it in play on the ground a little bit.”
Game 2 of the best-of-three series will be played at noon today. Colt Smith will start for New Albany, while Eli Murphree takes the mound for the ‘Dores.
“At times, we’ve played defense like that,” said New Albany coach John Walker, whose team committed five errors. “You just don’t expect it at this time of the season. Tonight, we were just plain bad defensively.”
Meanwhile, Stanley continued a steady dose of breaking pitches to keep New Albany off balance.
“I was trying to throw a lot of off speed, and getting them off guard,” said Stanley, a senior, who improved to 5-1.
New Albany took a 3-1 lead in the third on a double by Easton Hall that scored Ben Foster, and a bases-loaded walk to Jake McDonald.
Mason Maxey (10-2) took the loss for the Bulldogs.