All Byron Buxton wanted was a state championship. The Appling County High (Baxley, Ga.) outfielder is likely to be one of the first three picks in next week's draft as a hitter, but he had other things on his mind Thursday night when he took the mound. The Pirates dropped Game 1 of the Georgia 2-A state championship series against Pierce County (Blackshear, Ga.), but took Game 2.
After a few postponements because of Tropical Storm Beryl, the two rivals finally got to face off in a decisive Game 3. The rivalry had a chance to get so heated that state troopers were at Appling County's field to make sure things stayed civil between fans.
Buxton took the hill again and practically granted himself his own wish. In seven innings he struck out 18 batters. He allowed four runs, but three of those came in the last inning. Through five innings, 15 outs were recorded via the strikeout, with another coming on a ground out—one runner reached on a passed ball on strike three.
"Before the game I asked him, 'Are you ready?'" head coach Jeremy Smith said. "He simply said, 'I've got you.' He was untouchable. He was on tonight."
Smith added that Buxton used his slider tonight, but mostly reached backed and overpowered hitters with his fastball.
The title is Appling County's first ever in a male sport.
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