Luke Keller slides into third base for Post 43 during the state championship game against West Florence Thursday.

SUMTER – A rally in the top of the seventh inning wasn’t enough for the Fort Mill Post 43 Juniors team as they lost 4-3 to West Florence in the American Legion Junior State Championship game Thursday at Riley Park.

The first-year program finished 19-2 and are runners-up in the state. The loss was just the second of the year for Fort Mill and the second consecutive one for the team. In the past two games, Post 43’s bats struggled and in the championship game they managed just four hits. They left 10 runners on base in the game.

Trailing 4-2 entering the seventh inning, West Florence struggled with their relief pitching as they walked four in the inning and allowed Carter Cox to score on a passed ball to make it 4-3. Post 43 couldn’t get the tying run in and the game ended with the bases loaded for Fort Mill.

“Proud of our guys,” said Post 43 Juniors head coach Michael Lewis. “Great season. Disappointed that we didn’t finish the job.”

Post 43 opened the game scoring in the top of the first as Luke Keller singled to get on base just two batters in to the game. He was driven in by Lane Ross on a sacrifice fly to give Fort Mill and early 1-0 lead. It would be their only lead of the game.

In the bottom of the first, West Florence got all the runs they would need scoring four runs on two hits and a Post 43 error. Paul Solari got the start for Fort Mill on the mound and pitched well allowing four runs on six hits, but only one of those runs were earned. He also walked two and struck out two. His worst inning in the outing was the first, but Post 43 didn’t give him the run support he needed.

Fort Mill cut the West Florence lead in half in the third inning as Keller, who went 2-3, led the inning off with a double, which was followed by an RBI double from Solari, who went 1-3 at the plate as well. The two hits were all Post 43 could get in the inning.

Mac Banks:, @fortprep

Paul Solari throws a pitch during his start facing West Florence in the state championship game at Riley Park in Sumter.