DUBLIN, Ga. --- The Thomson High Bulldogs have inched a little closer to claiming a second consecutive region baseball championship.
It was made possible in a 6-4 come-from-behind victory over West Laurens in Dublin last Saturday.
Thomson, ranked No. 6 in the latest Class AAA state poll, improved its overall record to 18-3 and 8-1 in Region 3-AAA.
The Bulldogs play host to Burke County this Friday in their regular-season finale at home. Game time is set for 6 p.m. The Bulldogs will travel to Milledgeville to play Baldwin on Tuesday. On April 30, Thomson will hit the road again to play Richmond Hill -- a team that defeated the Bulldogs earlier this season.
"I was pleased with the overall effort the boys gave against West Laurens," said a relieved Thomson coach Jason Osborn. "We made several errors, but we didn't give into them. The game turned out to be a seven-inning grind."
His Bulldogs didn't play as sharp defensively as he would have liked in the early going; West Laurens scored three of their four runs on miscues.
Two of the Raiders' runs crossed home plate on pass balls by sophomore catcher Austin Cooper. The third scored on a rare error by second baseman Cody Corbitt in the bottom of the third inning.
"I've always heard, it's not the way you start a game but how you finish," Osborn said.
He was complimentary of junior ace Abram Cartledge, who hurled another complete game.
"I thought Abe performed better than he has lately," Osborn said.
"He still isn't where he ought to be, but he's showing signs of getting better. That's a good thing."
Even Cartledge said he thought he had improved.
"My ratio on balls and strikes was much better than it's been being," he said. "I want to keep getting better and better, so I'll be where I need to be when the playoffs start."
Cartledge yielded seven hits, struck out one batter and walked two.
After the Raiders went up 1-0 in the bottom of the first inning, the Bulldogs bounced back in the top of the third and tied the game at 1-1.
Corbitt became a strikeout victim of West Laurens starter Rodney O'Neal. Junior center fielder Dontavis Brown followed with a walk before moving to third base on a single up the middle by sophomore first baseman Andy Grimaud. Brown later raced home on a sacrifice fly to center field by junior shortstop Nick Rau.
The Raiders reclaimed the lead, 2-1, in the bottom of the third.
Thomson came right back in the top of the fourth inning to tie the game for the second time.
Cartledge led off by lacing a single into left field. He was replaced on the base path by courtesy runner Josh Jones. He moved to third base on a double by Cooper that was hit into the right center field gap. Senior right fielder Drake Smallwood later hit a sacrifice fly to center that scored Jones and tied the game at 2-2.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Raiders struck for two more runs and went back up 4-2.
Again, the Bulldogs responded, tallying three runs in the fifth inning to take the lead for the first time, 5-4.
Brown led off with a double and scored on a RBI single to right field by Grimaud. Rau followed with a double that scored Grimaud and tied the game for the third time at 4-4. Rau scored the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly by senior third baseman Cody Ewest.
Thomson scored a big insurance run in the top of the seventh. Junior left fielder Will Tankersley led off with a triple into the right center field gap. He scored on a RBI single by Cartledge.