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Florence escapes in dramatic fashion

DEMOPOLIS — Until the 10th inning, Florence Post 11’s Shawn Fossett hadn’t contributed much, offensively. He struck out, looking, in the top of the 6th with two men on base. In the 8th, with two men on base again, he popped out to shallow right field.

But when it matter most, Fossett delivered and led Post 11 to a 5-4 win over Bessemer Post 149 in the first round of the American Legion State Tournament in Demopolis on Thursday.

With one out in the top of the 10th and the scored knotted at 4-4, Florence’s William Kelley should have been the second out of the inning when Bessemer pitcher Jared Bradford booted a dribbler back to the mound. Kelley reached first on the error and advanced to second on a ground out by Jordan Conley.

This time, with two outs, Fossett singled and Kelley scored from second, giving Florence a 5-4 lead and a 1 p.m. game against Tuscaloosa Post 34 in the second round of the tournament today.

Cody Hyde powered Florence to an early lead in the top of the first inning with a two run homer. Eric Moore, who started the game with single, scored on the home run.

In the top of the third, Florence added to its lead when Jimmy Evans doubled to lead off the inning and Evan Wallace hit another two-run homer to give Florence a 4-0 lead.

Bradford, who struck out five and walked no one in 10 innings on the mound, settled in after the third and didn’t give up another run until Fossett crossed the plate in the 10th.

Bessemer got on the board in the bottom of the third when Chase Ramsey scored on a Jake Elmore sacrifice fly. Post 149 added another run in the fourth when Ryan Norman scored on a Michael Edmonds sacrifice fly, and another in the fifth after Elmore hit a solo home run.

In the bottom of the eighth, Norman singled and advanced all the way to third on Florence throwing errors. Edmonds singled to score Norman and pick up his second RBI on the night, tying the game at 4-4.

In the bottom of the 10th, Florence pitcher Nathan Russ — in his 10th inning of work — didn’t give up a hit to lead his team into the winners’ bracket. For a moment, though, it looked like Russ wouldn’t make it out of the first inning.

Russ walked the first three Bessemer batters he faced, but escaped without giving up a run. He got Bessemer clean-up hitter Joshua Gibson to pop out to short for the first out of the inning, struck out James Parsons, and got Ryan Norman to fly out to center field for the final out of the inning.

Russ gave up seven hits, struck out nine and walked six in 10 innings.

Offensively, the No. 3 and No. 4 hitters did their job for Post 11. Hyde went 2-for-5 with a home run, a double and two RBIs. Wallace went 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs.

For Bessemer, Ramsey had a double and scored one run, Elmore had two RBIs, including a home run, Edmonds had a single and two RBIs and Norman singled twice and scored two runs.

While Florence advances to the winners’ bracket, Bessemer will face Andalusia today at 10 a.m. in the losers’ bracket of the double-elimination state tournament.