MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. -- They've done it again. Just like the strong, gusty winds that prevailed all day on Tuesday, the Thomson High School Bulldogs have won the Region 3-AAA Baseball Championship for a second straight year.
The title was captured with a 15-2 victory over the Baldwin Braves in Milledgeville.
"We're very proud of them," said a jubilant Thomson first year head coach Jason Osborn on behalf of himself and assistant coaches Aaron Hall and Wes Harrell. "Anybody can win a region championship, but when you do it two years in a row, it's even more special. That's how traditions start."
There wasn't time for a lot of celebration, as the players met for a team meeting and were congratulated by family members and supporters before getting back on a school bus for their return trip home.
"We've still got a lot of work to do between now and the time the playoffs start," said coach Osborn, who along with his assistant coaches was personally congratulated by McDuffie County School Superintendent Jim LeBrun. "We've got to keep working hard and stay focused here on out."
Thomson senior third baseman Cody Ewest, who played sick, remarked after the game, "It feels good to win the region championship again."
Winning the latest title didn't come quickly, though. It took six complete innings and a rain/delay of nearly a half hour before the Bulldogs were able to accomplish the feat -- something the Bulldogs have never before accomplished on the diamond. It's a first for the Thomson team, which has been thrust into state limelight for the second year in a row.
In the latest Class AAA state baseball poll, Thomson was ranked No. 6. Thomson, now 20-3 overall this season and 10-1 in Region 3-AAA play will travel to Hinesville on Friday for a 6 p.m. game against Richmond Hill -- the only team in the region to have beaten the Bulldogs.
"We want to go down there and avenge that loss on Friday," said coach Osborn.
Against Baldwin, Thomson got a fine pitching performance from junior right-hander Nick Rau, who worked five innings before giving way to senior relief pitcher Korey Austin.
Rau, who normally is the starting shortstop, fired a three-hitter against the Braves. He struck out seven batters and walked two. Austin, who faced only three batters in the bottom of the sixth inning, struck out the first two batters before getting the third one to ground-out to Ewest at third base for the third out, which ended the game and earned the Bulldogs the region title.
Thomson got behind early in the game, as the Braves tagged the Bulldogs for a couple of runs during the first two innings.
It didn't take the Bulldogs long before they got fired up, as they scored their first run in the top of the second inning. They added another four runs in the third before rain halted the game for a while.
The first run was scored by junior left fielder Will Tankersley, who drew a leadoff walk. He stole second base and eventually scored after swiping third and home plate on wild pitches.
In the fourth, Thomson pushed across two more runs to increase their lead to 7-2. They scored four more runs in the fifth and tallied four more runs in the sixth. Hits came from the following players: Dontavis Brown, a pair of doubles, a single and three RBI; Andy Grimaud, a single and a solo homerun -- his second one of the season; Ewest, a RBI single; Abram Cartledge, a double and single and a sacrifice RBI; and Cody Corbitt, an infield single.