Seniors at play

Published 10:32 pm Friday, July 24, 2009

Tuscaloosa Post 34 took the first step toward a state title Friday, defeating Florence Post 11 12-2 in the first round of the Alabama American Legion State Tournament in a seven-inning game that was shortened by the mercy rule.

“We’ve been swinging the bats real well starting with the district tournament, and that just kind of carried over into tonight,” said Tuscaloosa head coach John Rushing.

Tuscaloosa never trailed in the game, jumping out to a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning.

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The first four Tuscaloosa batters reached and later scored on an RBI single by Rob McWhirter, a sacrifice fly by Vincent Kortbawi and a two RBI double by Cameron Carlisle.

Tuscaloosa added two more urns in the second to take a 6-0 lead when McWhirter and Jake Vickerson scored on a throwing error by Florence catcher Nikolas Flanagan.

Vickerson sparked another four-run inning for Tuscaloosa in the sixth when he hit a two run homer over the high wall in right field.

Kortbawi added another sacrifice fly and Terrance Dederick hit an RBI single to put Tuscaloosa up 10-2.

Vickerson led Tuscaloosa’s offensive attack, going 4-5 with two RBIs and a homer.

“They had a good plan at the plate, which was to drive the ball to the gaps and when they do that, they’re hard to beat,” Rushing said.

Forrest Holifield started on the mound for Tuscaloosa and pitched well, pitching a complete game to pick up the win.

“That was huge,” Rushing said. “He pitched right at 100 pitches. I was in a position where I didn’t want to use another guy.

“Forrest pitched seven strong innings and he won’t be back in this tournament, but it was huge to not have to use another guy.”

Oilfield gave up just six hits and two runs while striking out one.

Florence only scored one earned run, with that run coming on a fourth inning sacrifice fly by Charles Irby.

Irby went 2-2 at the plate for the game to lead Florence’s offense.

Chase Thompson took the loss for Florence, pitching 5 1/3 innings andgiving up nine runs on eleven hits.

Despite the blowout victory, Rushing said there are some things for Tuscaloosa to work on before its second round game Saturday.

“We still need to shore up our defense some,” Rushing said.

“If we can get a little more sound on defense and keep hitting the ball, we’ll be all right.

“They’re a fun bunch to catch when they do those things.”

Tuscaloosa will play in the winner’s bracket game Saturday at 1:30 p.m., while Florence will play in the loser’s bracket game at 10 a.m.