VIENNA - Buffalo took an easier path to the Class A state championship game this year.
Freshman starter Ali Burdette and sophomore reliever Chelsey Parkins combined to allow just three hits and strike out 16 and the Bisons belted 16 hits in a 7-2 victory over Moorefield in the second game of Wednesday's state tournament session.
In Buffalo's opener, Parkins fired a two-hit shutout and the Bison banged out 10 hits in claiming an 11-0 five-inning mercy-rule win over Fayetteville. A pro-Buffalo crowd of about 300 ringed Field 2 at Jackson Park for both contests.
"I said before if we hit the ball we'll be all right,'' said Buffalo coach Darrell Moore, who guided the Bison to state titles in 2002 and 2004 in addition to last year.
Buffalo (31-7), the defending state champion, advances to the title game at 3 p.m. today. The Bison only needs one win to claim the school's first back-to-back championships while its foe has to win twice in the double-elimination format.
Last year Buffalo lost on the first day, then won three games on the final day to claim the title, including two wins over Wheeling Central in the championship round.
Moorefield (33-5), which finished second in the final state coaches poll, drops into the losers bracket and will take on No. 4 St. Marys (27-5) at 10:30 a.m. today in an elimination game, with the winner squaring off with Buffalo in the title game. The Yellow Jackets won their first game, a 9-4 decision over St. Marys, while the Blue Devils downed Fayetteville 11-3 in Wednesday's elimination game.
Six of Buffalo's starters had multiple hits in the victory over Moorefield and it could have been worse as the Bison left 13 on base.
"Once we get going there's no stopping us,'' said Buffalo sophomore left fielder Katie Higginbotham, who went 3-for-5 with two RBIs from the leadoff position in the batting order.
"We're on fire. When we're on, we're on. There's no stopping us. I just think we play better under pressure and we know everybody's out to get us. We're ready to win this thing.''
Buffalo broke open a scoreless game in the top of the third, scoring six runs and sending 10 batters to the plate. Higginbotham's two-out, two-run single gave the Bison a 5-0 lead to highlight the uprising.
Burdette started her first state tournament game, yielding two earned runs on three hits with 10 strikeouts and six walks in 42/3 innings. She surrendered a two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth then walked two and gave up a single before getting lifted for the more experienced Parkins, who earned the save after fanning six of the seven batters she faced. Parkins whiffed the last three batters to end the game on a rousing note.
"We have to come back more ready because they're really wanting us now,'' Higginbotham said. "We just have to come and play like we did today.''
Buffalo jumped out to an early 2-0 lead against Fayetteville (10-21), scoring both runs in the bottom of the first without a hit and taking advantage of a walk and error.