Going into the 2008 Georgia Recreation and Parks Association State Baseball Tournament at Sweetwater Park near Thomson last week, players and coaches alike of the 13-14-year-old local team felt they had as good a chance of winning the title as any of the other seven teams.
They started the tournament in a blazing way, bumping off Carrollton County 11-5 in the opening game last Wednesday afternoon. Unfortunately, it was all down hill from then on. For they lost 11-1 at the hands of Vidalia last Thursday before being eliminated by Moultrie later that night 13-3.
A number of the Thomson All-Star players were standouts on this year's Thomson Middle School baseball team, which won the Super 10 Middle School Baseball Championship. The Thomson All-Stars were comprised of the following players: Quantavious Heath, Hank Doupe', Andy Grimaud, Austin Cooper, Clay Blasingame, John Holloway, Jordan Marshall, Trevor Stephens, Wykey Lane, Brett Jenkins, Chad Austin, Josh Jones and Austin Bailey. The team was guided by Head Coach Chris Elliott and Assistant Coaches Wayne Sims, Tommy Bailey and Jordan Bailey.
They were among seven other teams who participated in last week's GRPA state baseball tournament.
Capturing this year's GRPA baseball championship was Glenn County, who went undefeated in the three-day tournament. They defeated Dublin 6-3 to win the title last Saturday afternoon, according to Bob Howard, director the Thomson-McDuffie County Recreation and Leisure Services. The local recreation department staff played host to this year's tourney.
In the Thomson-Vidalia game last Thursday, the Thomson All-Stars fizzled out with their bats. And when opportunities came knocking at their door - they squandered their chances on the base path. The team was held to just five hits by Tyler Hutcheson, who went the distance for Vidalia. Hutcheson managed to pick one runner off first base, while three other runners made miscues, resulting in outs.
Thomson pitcher Clay Blasingame was roughed up for three runs on three hits in the top of the first inning.
Vidalia's Devan Carter led off with a double into the right center field gap and later raced home with his team's first run on a RBI single by Hutcheson - aiding his own cause. He eventually scored, as did C. Silliker, who reached earlier on a double.
After a pair of ground outs by Heath and Doupe', Grimaud collected Thomson's first hit - a single in the bottom of the first inning. He was left stranded when Cooper struck out on a check swing.
In the second, Vidalia added another run to take a 4-0 lead.
It wasn't until the bottom of the third that Thomson scored their first and only run of the game. Heath reached on a one-out error and later scored on Grimaud's second hit of the game.
Thomson threatened again in both the fifth and sixth innings. Cooper was hit by a pitch and left stranded at second base, while two other runners were left on the base path in the fifth - Stephens, who had drawn a walk and made it to third base and Heath, who singled.
Vidalia's Chris Hartley came into the game in the fifth as a relief pitcher and finished off Thomson. Blasingame, who didn't get any offensive support, worked four innings before giving way to Cooper in the fifth.