The Thomson High School baseball team defeated Harlem by a score of 1-0 in a game at Harlem High School on Friday.
In the battle of the Bulldogs, the difference in the game came early when designated hitter Andy Grimaud knocked a home run in the first inning. Clearing the right-field fence just left of the 321-foot marker, the solo homer remained the only run scored through seven innings of hard-fought competition.
Starting pitcher Phillip Anderson had a strong six innings but was relieved by senior Nick Rau in the bottom of the seventh with the bases loaded. Before being relieved, Anderson had hit two batters with pitches, but a dramatic 1-6-4 double play made it appear he might finish the game.
But with a runner on base, Thomson deliberately walked the next batter after the base runner stole second. Anderson then hit another batter with a wild pitch, and Rau was called in to close the game.
Rau made short work of Harlem second baseman Cameron May, getting three strikes from four pitches for the final out.
"I was nervous at first," Rau said after the game, "but I just had to block it out."
The Bulldogs' teamwork made the difference in holding Harlem scoreless.
"It felt great today," first baseman Abe Cartledge said after the game. "We played like a close-knit family, taking up for each other when we needed to and never giving up.
"We do need to get back to hitting the ball, though."
The intense rivalry between the two schools was nearly matched by the competition in the stands between the teams' fans. In the third inning, the umpire warned both teams' coaches about fans using air horns to try and distract the batters.
"You can take away our air horns, but you can't take away our spirit," one Thomson fan was heard to yell from the stands. There were no further disturbances, however, and no one was evicted.
"The crowd was loud, but we're used to that," Thomson head coach Jason Osborn told his players after the game. "We were used to it last year, and we're used to it this year. But we've got to get better at the plate. All we know how to do is work, and we're going to work on that, and work, and work."
Thomson traveled to Statesboro on Saturday, dropping a 7-5 decision.
The 6-2 Bulldogs were scheduled to play host to Westside on Tuesday. They will be home against Josey on Friday.