All-Stars earn key victory 4-2

Russellville’s 11-12 All-Star team picked up a key win Sunday to remain in the winners’ bracket of the state and stay one win away from the championship game.

Russellville had a first-round bye before disposing of Phenix City in 4-2 Sunday.

“A bye doesn’t help if we don’t win that game,” said Russellville coach Kevin Greenhill. “It was huge to get one under our belt.”

Judd Ward opened the game with a lead off double, stole third and scored on a passed ball to give Russellville a 1-0 lead early.

Phenix City tied the game in the bottom of the first inning when Ryan Bankston singled and scored on a double by Brant Knox.

Phenix City pitcher Robert Miles retired all three Russellville batters faced in the second inning and his team rewarded him with another run in the bottom of the inning when Carson Allison scored on a sacrifice RBI by Hunter Bias.

Miles continued to dominate the Russellville lineup in the third, quickly striking out two batters before hitting Ward with a pitch. He recovered and got the next batter to ground out.

Phenix City threatened to extend the lead in the bottom of the third with runners on second and third with two outs, but Russellville pitcher Payton Nichols struck Allison out to get out of the jam.

Russellville took control of the game in the fourth inning.

Austin Stidham reached base after a Miles pitch hit him. Nichols then drew a walk. Phenix City then replaced Miles with Bankston.

Russellville’s John Pierce took advantage of the pitching change by driving in Stidham with a single to tie the game.

“Pierce had a key hit with two on,” Greenhill said. “He’s a little bitty kid that came through. It gave our dugout confidence.”

A series of wild pitches and passed balls allowed Nichols and Pierce to score, giving Russellville a 4-2 advantage.

Phenix City loaded the bases in the fifth inning against Ward, who had replaced Nichols on the mound.

Ward struck out Allison and Gage Dollar to get out of the inning unscathed.

Ward began the final inning with three consecutive balls to the lead off batter before being replaced by Cody Greenhill.

Greenhill walked that batter and hit another with a pitch, but was able to retire the other three batters he faced to preserve the win.

“When the pitchers had to throw strikes, they threw them,” Kevin Greenhill said. “We have confidence in them to give them the ball and let them go at it.”

With the win Russellville advanced to the winners’ bracket final against Westside-Mobile. That game was played Tuesday, but concluded too late to be included in today’s edition of The Franklin County Times.

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