A seven-run second inning, sparked by a three-run homer off the bat of Dontavis Brown, helped the Thomson High Bulldogs defeat the Burke County Bears 13-1 in five innings at the Thomson field last Friday night.
Since it was the Bulldogs' last regular season home game and seniors' honor night, it drew a large crowd.
Thomson, now 19-3 overall and 9-1 in Region 3-AAA standings, were scheduled to go to Milledgeville on Tuesday to battle the Baldwin Braves in another region game.
First-year head coach Jason Osborn admitted that he was "a little nervous" before his Bulldogs played Burke County.
"I really don't know what made me feel that way unless it was distractions about tomorrow," Osborn told reporters. He was referring to the annual junior-senior prom.
Osborn said he was pleased with the focus of his infielders and outfielders.
"They set the tone," he said. "They proved it by how hard they played, even when we had a 12-run lead."
He said he was pleased to see Nic Wood step up to the plate and drill a two-run home run in the bottom of the fourth inning.
"That was one of my proudest moments I've ever had as a coach," Osborn said of Wood bouncing back from knee and other injuries. "It was great to see him battle back that way."
Going into the bottom of the third inning and leading 8-1, Osborn told his players, "Keep adding to it. Put 'em away early."
The Bulldogs did exactly what that.
"I thought that was a byproduct of them playing up to their capability," Osborn added. "I was very proud of them."
Nine of Thomson's 13 runs came after two outs during the first three innings of play.
Burke County scored off Thomson junior starting left-handed pitcher Abram Cartledge in the top of the first, but the Bulldogs battled back and tied the game at 1-1 with a run in the bottom of that frame. Junior shortstop Nick Rau got things started when he reached on a two-out walk. Senior third baseman Cody Ewest followed with a walk, too.
Junior leftfielder Will Tankersley, whose bat has been red-hot most of the season, came through again. He delivered an RBI double into the right center field gap that allowed Rau to race home.
In the bottom of the second, the Bulldogs erupted for seven runs after a double-play that was turned by the Bears. The rally capped a six-hit explosion. Those hits came from Abe Cartledge, with a pair of singles and two RBI; Drake Smallwood; Cody Corbitt; Dontavis Brown with a three-run homer; and Will Tankersley, who had a two-run single.
Thomson tallied five more runs in the contest -- two in the bottom of the third and three more in the bottom of the fourth.
Smallwood, the senior right fielder, got his second hit of the game in the third. First baseman and eventual relief pitcher Andy Grimaud later walked with two outs that again provided runners on the base path for the Bulldogs. Rau followed with a two-run double to center field.
Tankersley belted his eighth homer of the season to lead off the fourth inning.
Cartledge then collected his third hit of the game -- a double into left field -- before Wood clobbered his first home run of the season over the left center field fence.
Cartledge pitched the first three innings. He gave up just two hits -- both singles. He also struck out seven batters and allowed no walks.
Grimaud pitched an inning in relief, as did senior right-handed pitcher Korey Austin. Both allowed a hit each. Austin fanned the last two batters he faced.