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Russellville All-Stars earn shot at title

Huntsville drew first blood, but Russellville responded with eight runs for a shutout victory.

The Huntsville International All-Stars drew first blood when Russellville catcher Torey Baird cut his face on a bang-bang play at the plate in the bottom of the second inning.

Will Keenum was attempting to score on a sacrifice fly by Wesley Neighbors. Russellville right fielder Corey Flannagan caught the fly ball and hurled it to home. Baird caught the ball and tagged Keenum for the third out of the inning.

Russellville answered with one run in the top of the third inning when Jake Ward reached on a infield single and came around to score. Flannagan and Caleb Mitchell had singles in the inning to load the bases with no outs. Huntsville International starting pitch Joe Louis Flemming struck out the next two batters. The third batter was Josh James and he came though with a hard-hit ball to short. An error on the play allowed Ward to score.

Huntsville got out of the inning without any more damage.

The score remained 1-0 until the top of the fifth inning when Russellville added five runs for a 6-0 lead.

Mitchell started the inning with a lead-off walk that resulted in a pitching change for Huntsville. Nic Dowd came in to pitch and gave up a single to Baird. Then, Troy Oliver blasted a three-run homer over the center field fence.

Dowd was lifted with Andrew Bailey coming in to pitch.

Haleigh Bewley kept the rally going by drawing a walk and then Trey Hooper reached on a base hit. Bewley scored later in the inning on a groundout by Jonathan Dill. Hooper scored on a groundout by Ward.

The fifth-inning rally gave Russellville a 6-0.

They added to their lead in the top of the sixth inning when Hooper ripped a two-run home run after Baird had reached on an error.

Huntsville failed to score in the bottom of the sixth with Russellville recording an 8-0 win.

Troy Oliver was the winning pitcher for Russellville pitching a one-hit shutout. He had two strikeouts in the game.

The victory earns the Russellville All-Stars a spot in tonight's Alabama Little League State Championship Game at the Andalusia Sports Complex. The game is set to begin at 7 p.m. and admission is free.

If Russellville wins tonight it would force an "if necessary" game at 7 p.m. on Friday with the winner earning the title of state champs.