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Post 33 catches state runner-up trophy

By Staff
Kim West, Franklin County Times
OZARK – Post 33 came within one run of winning the Junior American Legion baseball tournament held July 27-30 in Ozark.
Post 33, a team comprised of players from Phil Campbell, Russellville and Haleyville, lost 2-1 in the championship game to Huntsville's Butler squad.
"We had a 1-0 lead going into the sixth inning, and Butler scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth," said Post 33 coach Sean Whiteside, who co-managed the team with his brother, Brett Whiteside. "Caleb Flanagan and Torey Baird were on-base in the bottom of the seventh with two outs, but we struck out to end the game."
Post 33 pitcher Trey McNutt, a Haleyville High School rising senior, was named the tournament's most valuable player.
"Jake Ward hit over .600 during the tournament, and Torey Baird led our team in RBIs," Whiteside said. "And McNutt pitched a shutout and hit a couple of home runs, including a game-winner."
Post 33 lost 2-1 in the tournament opener to Tuscaloosa Academy last Friday and then won four straight games, including two doubleheaders, to earn a place in the final game.
Post 33 beat Monroeville and G.W. Long on Saturday and Butler on Sunday. After beating Opelika Monday morning, the team faced Butler for the second time in the tournament and the fifth time this season.
"We were a better team than Butler," Whiteside said. "We just didn't get enough hits (in the final game)."
Post 33 beat Butler four times this season, including once during the Florence Invitational Tournament and also Sunday night at the state tournament.
"We beat them 8-7 the night before," said Whiteside, whose team faced being eliminated after losing once during the double-elimination tournament. "We made things interesting, because they loaded the bases in the seventh inning with no outs. Jake Ward came in to pitch in relief and got the hitter to line out to Corey Flanagan at second base, and he turned the double play. Then Jake struck out the last two batters to end the game."
Other Russellville players on the team's roster included Mark Davis, John Batchelor and Matthew Crawford. Phil Campbell's Korey Pounders and Caleb Thompson also suited up for Post 33.
"Caleb Thompson pitched four strong innings for us in the final," Whiteside said. "The Russellville players had a good game in the (6-0) win against Opelika Monday morning. Jake Ward went 3-for-4,Torey Baird hit three RBIs and Corey Flanagan scored two runs.
Whiteside, who once played Major League Baseball, said that McNutt has the potential to be chosen in the next MLB draft. He also said Ward, Flanagan and Baird could play at the college level.
"If they keep improving, they all should have the chance to move on to the next level," Whiteside said. "These players are what I call gamers – they play the game hard and smart."