COLUMBUS, Ga. -- They weren't intimidated.
And it was plain to see it after Thomson began play against Columbus in Game 1 of the semifinal series of the Georgia Class AAA baseball state playoffs at the Randy Jordan Field at Columbus High School last Monday.
End result: Thomson won the opener of the series 6-2 behind the left-handed ace hurler Abram Cartledge and some clutch hitting from several players.
"It felt great winning Game 1," Cartledge said after notching his 12th pitching victory of the season against only two losses. "I felt all of my pitches were better than they were in Game 1 of the series against Gainesvile. My change-up worked the best against Columbus."
Cartledge, a junior, yielded only five hits in going the distance against the Columbus Blue Devils. He struck out four batters and walked four -- two of whom were intentional. Of the hits given up, two of them were infield singles off the bat of Columbus second baseman Hunter Brocoto in the third and fifth innings.
The Bulldogs, ranked No.8 going into the Final Four series against Columbus, the No. 1 ranked team, wasted no time establishing an early lead. With two outs in the top of the first inning -- both by way of strikeouts by Columbus sophomore starting pitcher Kyle Carter, junior shortstop Nick Rau tagged Carter for the first hit of the game. The single was stroked into left field.
Senior third baseman Cody Ewest kept the inning alive when he smashed a double against the center field wall that drove in Rau with the Bulldogs' first run. Columbus center fielder Bobby Andrews was hurt on the play after crashing into the wall. He was taken to an area hospital after receiving what was described as a concussion. Andrews did not play in Game 2, which followed.
The Bulldogs' first at-bat came to an end when junior left fielder Will Tankersley struck out, becoming the third victim of Carter's arsenal of pitches.
Columbus came back in the bottom of the second inning and knotted the game at 1-1. They laid claim to a 2-1 lead after scoring another run in the third.
Thomson got four runs on three hits in the top of the fourth and went back on top, 5-2. From the fourth inning on, he only allowed the Blue Devils two hits.
The uprising began with Cartledge getting aboard on a leadoff walk. Sophomore catcher Austin Cooper followed by roping a single into right field to put runners on first and second bases. Courtesy runners Josh Jones and Korey Austin took their place on the base path. Both runners later advanced on sacrifice bunts by junior designated hitter Nic Wood and senior right fielder Drake Smallwood. Junior centerfielder Dontavis Brown drew a walk that loaded the bases before Grimaud drilled a two-run double and Rau came through with a single to drive in another run.
Thomson scored its last run in the top of the seventh. Rau drew a leadoff walk, which chased Carter from the game. Columbus relief pitcher Josh Bricker came in to pitch to Ewest, who reached on a fielding miscue by Columbus shortstop McClendon Hill. Tankersley then hit an RBI sacrifice fly to center, which allowed Rau to race home with the Bulldogs' sixth run of the game.
The next batter Cartledge faced was Columbus pitcher J.T. Phillips. Cartledge was fanned on strikes for the second out. Cooper followed with his second hit of the game -- a single into right field. Wood was called out on strikes.
In the sixth, Thomson executed a double-play to perfection. It was turned by second baseman Cody Corbitt, Rau and Cartledge -- thus stopping a threat the Blue Devils mounted in the bottom of the sixth.