Will Tankersley blasted a grand slam home run in the bottom of the fifth inning to propel the Thomson High Bulldogs to a 13-0 baseball victory over the West Laurens Raiders of Dublin at the Thomson field last Friday night.
"I was determined that I was going to get a hit," remarked Tankersley, the junior leftfielder, during an interview that followed the dramatic homer and ended the game in five innings because of the mercy rule. "When it (ball) came off the bat, I knew it was gone."
Tankersley's grand slam, his third of the season, was hit deep over the left field fence into the trees. It marked the fifth grand slam for the Thomson team this season. Two of Tankersley's teammates, Nick Rau and Cody Ewest, both have one to their credit, too.
Tankerlsey attributes his success at the bat this season to practicing and listening to his coaches.
The victory over West Laurens, who came into the Region 3-AAA game ranked No. 6 in the latest Class AAA state polls, puts Thomson atop the region standings. The Bulldogs, who are the defending region champions, completely dominated the contest from beginning to end -- much the same way they have done against several opponents of late.
And because of their impressive play of late, the Bulldogs recently were ranked 10th in the latest Class AAA Baseball Poll.
"It was a little unexpected us beating West Laurens like that in five innings, because they're a good team," said Thomson head coach Jason Osborn. "They're not only a good team, but they have a good coaching staff, too."
Coach Osborn said he was very proud of the way his team played.
"I'm proud of the way we prepared for the game against West Laurens," he said. "We had a real good week of practice and we better prepared to play them than they were us this time out."
The head coach also said he was proud of his team's killer instinct abilities.
In the bottom of the second inning when the Bulldogs were up 2-0, coach Osborn told his players, "You've got to dig every single inning." And in the third during a pitching change that was made by West Laurens, he told his team when they led 6-0. "You smell blood; you go out there and get it."
He said of Tankerlsey's big bat, "He's starting to become an all-around hitter for us. I'm pleased that he's been hitting the ball as well as he has. I hope it continues."
Thomson got another superb performance from junior lefty pitcher Abram Cartledge, who fired a two-hit shutout.
"The key to Abe is getting ahead of the hitter," said coach Osborn. "He did that well all day. He got in a rhythm. His curve ball worked real well for him."
"I'm a lot better pitcher than I was last year." said Cartledge. "My ratio of strikes is much higher than my balls this season. I'm finding the strike zone more consistently. "
He also said he appreciated his teammates pushing him like they do when he's on the mound.
The Bulldogs used a 14-hit assault to garner their 13 runs. They scored two runs in the first, six in the second and five more runs in the fifth. The hits came off the bats of: Dontavis Brown, a single; Andy Grimaud, an RBI single and a double; Nick Rau, a pair of RBI doubles and a single; Cartledge, an RBI single and RBI walk with bases loaded; Cody Ewest, RBI single and 2-run homer; Tankersley, a double and a grand slam; and Austin Cooper, an infield single.