Florence wins playoff series vs. Beaufort; Ospreys' season not over yet

Beaufort's Austin Willis-Green tries to make a throw to first on Friday night at Florence.
Beaufort's Austin Willis-Green tries to make a throw to first on Friday night at Florence. John D. Russell -- Florence Morning News

FLORENCE -- Post 1 is headed back to a familiar spot -- the American Legion state baseball tournament.

Zack Newton pitched six strong innings and Keshaun Samuel had two hits and three RBI as Florence defeated Beaufort 8-0 on Friday in the deciding game of the best-of-five second-round playoff series.

However, Beaufort still has a chance to make it to the state tournament. The Ospreys will host Goose Creek at 4 p.m. Sunday, with the winner headed to Sumter next week to play Inman in the first round of the state tournament.

"Three days of traveling and five games in five days took its toll," Beaufort coach Mike Smith said. "Last night was our chance to close the series and we didn't. A ground ball here or pop-up and we would have won, but that is the way baseball rolls sometimes.

"We aren't going to give up. We are going to play Goose Creek and see if we can't get an at-large invitation."

Florence, meanwhile, advances to its ninth straight state tournament and will open up against Greenville in the eight-team tournament in Sumter on July 27.

"It's always special to make it to the state tournament," Florence coach Derick Urquhart said. "It means our program is a consistent winner year in and year out. That is what we want to do, to make it a program that showcases the talent that the Pee Dee has."

Heading into Friday's game, the road team had won each of the four games in the series, but Post 1 made sure that didn't happen again. Florence scored three runs in the first and never looked back in winning its 16th straight playoff series.

Samuel, who had the game-winning hit in Game 4, finished 2 for 3 with three RBIs and a run scored. Catcher Austin King was 3 for 3 with an RBI and three runs scored. Logan McRae and Garrett Bevill each had two hits.

"The guys were out here early today, some of them 30 minutes before they had to be, and I think the guys were into it from the very start," Urquhart said. "We wanted to make sure everyone was on the same page and to make it back to Sumter."

The run support was more than enough for Newton, who retired 11 straight batters at one point. The right-hander allowed just two hits and struck out four in six innings.

Samuel and Trevor Edgerton pitched the final three innings for Florence.

"Coming back on three days' rest, Zack pitched outstanding," Urquhart said. "With the exception of an inning in game one, our pitching was outstanding this week and probably the best we had all year."

Shane Dixon took the loss for the Ospreys. The Florence-Darlington Tech rising sophomore allowed six earned runs over 5 1-3 innings.

David Tilton had two of Beaufort's three hits.