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Norton Rallies to Nip Sr. Legion

Russell Senior Legion Wins Zone TournamentHAYS-The Russell Post 99 Senior American Legion Baseball team played its best game at the AA/AAA State Tournament but could not hold on to a four-run lead in the late innings and lost to Norton 10-9 in the final game of pool play Friday at Larks Park.

Norton took a 1-0 lead in the first inning against starting pitcher Brendon Buhrle on a sacrifice fly by Ross Cole then added three more runs in the top of the third frame with two bases loaded walks sandwiched around an RBI single.  Russell, which was held to one run in their first two tournament games, tied the score 4-4 with a four-run rally in the bottom of inning.  Two runs scored on a fielding error by Norton center fielder Ryan Lively, a throwing error by pitcher Ross Cole and an alert play by Cole Schmidtberger when he scored on a passed ball.

Post 99 took the lead with two runs in the bottom of the fourth when Norton committed two more errors.  Russell would have had an even bigger inning but Cooper Windholz was called out at first base for interference when he collided with Norton first baseman Aiden Wicker to end the inning.  Had the play stood two more runs would have scored.  Russell did get those two runs however on Walker Braun's two-run double in the bottom of the fifth inning for an 8-4 advantage.

Burhle faced two batters in the top of the sixth before he reached his pitch limit and was lifted in favor of Kyler Fritschen.  Norton rallied for five runs in the inning to regain the lead at 9-8 on an error and two RBI singles with the final two runs scoring on the same play.  On a ground ball to first, Kirk Huser, the Russell first baseman threw to second for the force-out but the return throw to first which would have completed a double play was just a second late allowing the tying run to score, then a second Norton runner broke for the plate and scored to complete the rally.  Braden Smith's RBI single in the top of the seventh made the score 10-8.

In the bottom of the seventh, Rhett Pospichal led off with a single, then stole second base.  Fritschen then hit a a line drive to left field seemingly destined for extra bases but Tucker Gosselin made a backhanded catch to rob Fritschen of the hit.  Posphichal went to third on a groundout by Kyle Farmer then scored on a wild pitch to cut the deficit to 10-9.  After Braun walked, Huser flew out to center for the final out, ending Russell's season.

Fritschen took the loss for Russell and in addition to Burhle's start, Schmidtberger pitched the seventh inning for Post 99.  Connor Haresnape was the winner in relief for Norton.  The Russell Senior American Legion team coached by Tanner Rome and assisted by Allan Penka and Brandon Ridgley concludes the 2019 season with a record of 15-11.


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