By Maurice Patton
PULASKI – Brantly Whitwell made sure Post 19 wouldn’t repeat one portion of its Saturday night performance.
He also helped make sure the team would get a repeat result.
Whitwell tripled to lead off Sunday’s Game 3 of the American Legion Seniors state championship series against Post 60 – ending any chance of a second straight no-hitter – and scored three runs in a 13-3, six-inning victory to clinch the title.
“We played like we normally do,” Whitwell said regarding his team’s efforts at Sam Davis Park. “We didn’t do well Saturday. We wanted to step it up early and put some pressure on them.”
The Spring Hill graduate and Columbia State signee set about doing that quickly, driving an Austin McDow pitch into the deepest part of the park and over the head of leftfielder Adam Doss. One pitch later, Slade Moseley slashed one inside the left-field line for an RBI single and scored two outs later on a Brett Bell double.
The hosts from Pulaski never recovered.
“It was good to break the ice there,” Post 19 coach Scott Beasley said, as the team came off its 5-3 win Saturday despite a combined no-hitter from Alex Killen and Hogan Whitt. “We had a lot better at-bats. We hit a lot of balls hard, and some fell.”
The park’s dimensions didn’t always play to the visitors’ advantage, though. Measuring 368 feet down the left-field line, but just 325 to dead center and 322 to right, a number of balls that would have potentially been for extra bases wound up as only singles.
“I love playing at this park, but you get a lot of weird bounces, behind the plate and in center field,” Beasley said. “Sometimes it plays in your favor, sometimes not.”
While Post 19’s offense took off, Cory Francis managed to keep Post 60 in check at the plate. The hosts cut their two-run deficit in half as Gerry Wayne Davis singled with two outs to score Herlan Duran in the bottom of the first, but never got closer. Bell’s two-bagger in the third drove in Grant Burleson, and the visitors pulled away with 10 runs in their final two at-bats.
“We just ran out of pitching, ran out of players,” Post 60 coach Fred Aymett said following the loss. “We made too many errors, walked too many people, made too many mistakes.
“We played well. We’re going to move on and get ready for next year.”
Francis limited the hosts to three hits over four innings with eight strikeouts, with Hudson Adams working the final two frames and sitting Post 60 down in order in the sixth after a two-run fifth to finish off the victory.
“Francis was solid,” Beasley said. “He competed. He didn’t have his best stuff as far as balls and strikes, but four innings and one run – you’ll take it.
“All we needed was for your pitchers to keep you in the game and let the offense work.”
Bell, Burleson and Ryan Kirby each had a pair of hits and accounted for four of the team’s five extra-base hits. Moseley, Bell, Max Ballard and Kirby each scored twice.
Whitwell hit .333 (3-9) with a double, a triple, seven runs and two RBIs for the tournament and was named most valuable player.
“There wasn’t really a clearcut choice for MVP, but Whitwell scored seven runs,” Beasley said. “He did his job as a leadoff guy.
“That’s the way this team has been all year. There wasn’t that one dominant guy.”
Colton Moore went 2-for-3 for Post 60, with Duran scoring a pair of runs. Donnie Pearson received the tournament sportsmanship award.
With the series championship, Post 19 (18-7) continued its statewide dominance – claiming its 11th straight tourney title and advancing to the American Legion Southeast Region tournament that begins Aug. 4 in Pelham, Ala.
“We’ll give these guys some time off and hopefully get together over the weekend and get some work in before we head out Tuesday,” Beasley said.”
Columbia Post 19 13, Pulaski Post 60 3 (6 inn.)
C 201 046 – 13 9 1
P 100 020 – 3 5 3
Cory Francis, Hudson Adams (5) and Max Ballard. Austin McDow, Gerry Wayne Davis (5), Colton Moore (5), Blake Birdsong (6), Adam Doss (6) and Donnie Pearson, Sawyer Phillips (5). W – Francis. L – McDow.
Photos by Chris and Sarah Yow / SM-Tn Sports