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Legion juniors drop first game at state tourney 8-3

MONTGOMERY–Rain postponed the West Alabama American Legion junior baseball team’s first game of the state championship tournament after three innings, and playing conditions for the game’s resumption Friday morning can be described in one word: hot: Too bad the same couldn’t be said for the West Alabama bats.

After scoring no fewer than nine runs in any game in their triumph at the District tournament last week in Tuscaloosa, West Alabama was held to only one run in their first six innings on their way to an 8-3 loss to Muscle Shoals. The loss drops West Alabama into the loser’s bracket where they will face a team yet to be determined late Friday.

That first run, West Alabama’s only one until the seventh, came in the top of the third Thursday after West Alabama had fallen behind 3-0 after two. Kyle Thrasher reached on an error to open the inning and scored after a Haygen Kaylor sacrifice and a Randy Martin RBI single.

West Alabama starter Martin then settled down to pitch his first scoreless inning before the sky opened up and the game went to Friday with Muscle Shoals up 3-1. Robbie Smith took the mound Friday and when he pitched a scoreless fourth, it looked like West Alabama would have a chance to get back in the game.

And those chances did come for West Alabama as they put their leadoff runner on in each of the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings. But Chase Felts was stranded at third in the fourth, Thrasher was caught trying to steal third in the fifth, and nothing came of Martin getting hit by a pitch in the sixth.

In the meantime, Muscle Shoals increased their lead with a three-run two-out rally in the bottom of the fifth. They would add two more in the sixth to head to the seventh with a commanding 8-1 lead.

The West Alabama bats did make some noise in the top of the seventh, as Smith and Thrasher produced back-to-back singles before Dustin Edwards doubled to center to score Smith and cut the lead to six. A Muscle Shoals balk brought Thrasher home and with one out and the top of the order only one batter away, West Alabama had a glimmer of hope. But the glimmer disappeared as suddenly as it arrived, as Kaylor’s sharp line drive up the middle was snagged by the Muscle Shoals pitcher. Edwards was doubled off at third and the game was over.

Members of the Post 29 team hail from Marengo County and across West Alabama. They are Reed Gardiner, Dustin Edwards, Brett Vick, Brent Bonner, Robbie Smith, Chase Felts, Cameron Brister, Phillip Farmer, Kyle Thrasher, Patrick Castleman, Randy Martin, and Haygen Kaylor.