Columbia Star

1963        Celebrating 60 Years      2023

Flora falls to West Florence

A.C. Flora’s Harris Rivers bunts against West Florence. Photo by Mike Maddock

A.C. Flora’s Harris Rivers bunts against West Florence. Photo by Mike Maddock

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The visiting West Florence Knights scored two runs in each of the final three innings for a come-from-behind 6-3 win over the A.C. Flora Falcons in the Class 4A baseball playoffs.

Cooper Coleman led the Knights going 2-for-4 from the plate with an RBI and a run scored. Brody Cook added a 2-for-3 performance with a run scored, and Bryson Graves went 1-for-2 with an RBI and a run scored.

Harris Rivers led the Falcons going 3-for-4. Roper Wentzky was 2-for-3 with a run scored, and Carew Bates went 1-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored. Rence Best and Charlie Scott each finished with a hit and an RBI.

A.C. Flora took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Bates led off with a double to right field. He advanced to third on a groundout and scored on Best’s sacrifice fly to shallow right field.

The Falcons added two more in the bottom of the fourth when Grant Loggins led off with a walk, advanced to second on Wentzky’s hit to left field, took third on Rivers’s bunt single, and scored on Scott’s single to centerfield. Wentzky then scored from third when Bates hit into a fielder’s choice.

A.C. Flora starting pitcher Charles Flake Jr. went four innings allowing three hits and one earned run while striking out three.

“I thought Charles did great,” Hallett said. “It’s hot. We haven’t had warm weather in like three weeks. He was up to 60. His velocity had dropped down to 78 where he was 87-88 early, so it was like when he gave up the double, I’m like ‘alright, it’s time to make a change.’ It just wasn’t our night. We threw a couple of wild pitches in a row and give up a couple runs, and it changes the whole game.”

The Knights closed the gap to 3-2 in the top of the fifth when Coleman led off with a double to centerfield and Camp Keels walked. Jackson Goldbold came in to run for Coleman. The runners advanced on Evan Frank’s sacrifice bunt, and then Goldbold scored on a wild pitch and Keels came home on a passed ball.

In the top of the sixth, Graves led off with a walk, took second when Jack Benson reached on a bunt, and scored on Coleman’s single to right field. Coleman eventually came home on an error, and the Knights led for the first time at 4-3.

West Florence added a couple of insurance runs in the top of the seventh when Cook led off with a double to centerfield, advanced to third on a bunt single by Harrison Brown, and scored on Graves’s sacrifice fly to centerfield. Peyton Rogers then came home on Benson’s single to centerfield.

In the bottom of the seventh with one out, Loggins reached when he was hit by a pitch. An out later, Rivers doubled to centerfield sending Loggins to third, but pitcher Matthew Brown got a groundout to second to end the game and end the Falcons’ season.

“They scored more runs than we did, but what I’m going to tell you is that we started the year out 3-6; we ended up 19-10,” A.C. Flora head coach Andy Hallett said. “We’ll bounce back. We’ll eat this. Congratulations to them, but we’re A.C. Flora baseball. We know what it takes to win championships, and we know what it means to lose, and we’ll come back next year stronger than ever ready to rock and roll.

“When you don’t play your best when your best is needed, you get beat. We finished the season with our head held high, and we’ll always be proud to wear a Falcon uniform and represent this community and A.C. Flora High School with the most class and dignity of anybody in the state.”

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