For the first time in 40 years, the Thomson Bulldogs are region baseball champions.
The Bulldogs, now 15-7 overall, defeated the Burke County Bears 17-2 to capture the Region 3-AAA crown at home last Thursday night. The game was stopped in the third inning because of the 15-run rule. It marks the first time that Thomson has won a region baseball title since 1969.
"I feel elated for our team and this community, because the players have worked so hard and because we have gotten so much support from this community," Thomson Head Coach Terry Holder said after getting drenched with a cooler of Gatorade by players. "I'm especially proud for our four seniors."
Coach Holder, who formerly coached Evans and Greenbrier to eight state titles while coaching baseball at those schools, said he hopes it's not another 40 years before Thomson wins another region title.
"I hope we've learned something as a community from this and that we'll continue to promote baseball in McDuffie County and win many more region titles in the years to come," Coach Holder said.
Thomson will play Rutland of Macon in the first-round of the Class AAA state baseball playoffs in a double-header in Thomson next Friday. Game No. 3, if needed, would be played in Thomson next Saturday.
Thomson sophomore pitcher Abram Cartledge said, "I'm so happy we're region champions."
Cartledge, a southpaw, needed just three innings to get the job done. He yielded only two runs on three hits - the damage done by Burke's Zack Eubanks, who lined a two-run single into left field in the top of the third. He struck out five batters and walked two.
Thomson wasted no time getting run production. They struck for five runs in the first before getting four more runs in the second, while sending eight batters to the plate. The Bulldogs sealed Burke's fate in the third when they struck for eight more runs. The biggest damage came on a three-run homer by sophomore left fielder Will Tankersley.
Phillip Anderson, who played right field, got things going for the Bulldogs with a two-run single into left field that scored Dontavis Brown and Cody Ewest. Brown led off with a single, while Ewest walked. Cartledge later lined a two-run single into right field that drove in Anderson and shortstop Nick Rau, who earlier had reached on an error by the Burke pitcher.
In the bottom of the second, the Bulldogs scored four more runs to take a commanding lead of 9-0. The only hit during that time came from senior second baseman Zack Washington, who hit a RBI single into left field. Thomson erupted for eight more runs in the third. Aside from Tankersley's big homer, three other players got hits - all singles. They included Ewest, Cartledge and freshman Andy Grimaud, who drove in a run.
Prior to playing Burke County for the region title, Thomson hosted the Aquinas Irish. The Bulldogs managed to pull out a dramatic 8-7 win in the bottom of the seventh on a winning hit by Brown, the sensational sophomore center fielder. His hit drove in Josh Jones, who went into the game to run for Cartledge after Cartledge drew a lead-off walk off Aquinas' starting pitcher Erin Hawk.
The Irish, who got a super pitching performance from Hawk, actually held a 7-5 lead after four innings of play.
Phillip Anderson started the game for Thomson. He worked off the hill until the Irish took a 6-5 lead in the fourth. At that time, Grimaud went into the game as a relief pitcher and ended up getting the win
Thomson made several fine defensive plays in the game. Those responsible for some of those outstanding plays included Washington, Talkington, Ewest, Rau and Tankersley.