Tuscaloosa Post 34 headed to state championship

Published 10:23 pm Saturday, July 25, 2009

Tuscaloosa Post 34 will play for a state championship Sunday, this after defeating Dothan Post 12 13-5 in the winner’s bracket of the Alabama American Legion State Tournament.

Tuscaloosa held a 2-1 lead heading into the seventh, but blew the game open with a seven-run inning after Dothan ace Karsten Whitson left the game.

“We’ve had big inning problems all year long, since the season started in May,” said Dothan head coach Larry Tubbs. “It is just something this team has dealt with and can’t seem to shake. Whitson is one of the top pitchers in the country and he pitched an excellent ball game, but we had to take him out there in the seventh and we just couldn’t get anybody out after that.”

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Tuscaloosa head coach John Rushing said he told his team to be patient while Whitson was in the game.

“That’s what we were trying to do all along,” Rushing said. “We knew they were throwing him today and we were just trying to wait him out. We knew around the sixth or seventh inning, he would probably have to come out because either his pitch count would be too high or he would get tired. We just waited, waited and waited. That was the gameplan and they executed it perfectly.”

The game was a match up of the two most storied programs in the state, something Rushing said added to the win.

“It’s always good to beat Dothan,” Rushing said. “They’re a class program and they play the game the right way, so it always feels good to beat a program like theirs. The intensity when we play them is unmatched by any other game we play all year. You never can relax in a game against them. We had that seven spot, but they came right back with a three spot. So, it’s always a big deal to beat Dothan.”

With the win, Tuscaloosa will await the winner of Saturday’s game between Dothan and Florence Post 11.

Rushing said his team must understand that the tournament is far from over.

“Well, they’ve got to rest,” Rushing said. “They’ve also got to make sure that they’re aware that no matter who we play, they’re going to come out tomorrow with the intention of beating us twice. We’ve got to continue what we’ve been doing, which is pitching well and hitting the ball. Our defense still hasn’t been very good, but maybe if we’re doing tow out of the three things well, we can sneak in and win this thing.”

Dothan, meanwhile, must regroup from the loss in order to avoid elimination and set up a rematch with Tuscaloosa

“They’ve just got to get over it,” Tubbs said. “It’s a double elimination tournament and we still have baseball left to play, so we just have to focus on that.”