Thompson takes out Vestavia Hills, moves on to semifinals
By BAKER ELLIS / Sports Editor
ALABASTER – One week after knocking No. 2 Mountain Brook out in the first round of the 7A playoffs in three games, the No. 3 Warriors from Thompson (29-15) squared off against No. 1 Vestavia Hills for a berth in the semifinals. This series was not as dramatic as the previous one, as Thompson needed only two games to knock off the Rebels, who didn’t register a single run in the series.
Game 1. Thompson 10 – Vestavia Hills 0
What started as a close contest turned into anything but as the Warriors scored eight runs combined in the fifth and sixth innings to end the first game early. Leading 2-0 heading into the fifth inning, Thompson scored three runs in the fifth before knocking in five more in the sixth, as the Warriors demonstrated their ability to score runs in bunches. Heath Haskins and Zach Brammer each registered three hits in the first game to lead the way for Thompson from the plate. Jonathan Crawford had two hits while Riley Reach and Stephan Poplin each finished with one to give the Warriors 13 total hits in the first game.
As he has done often this year, Colin Lillie climbed the mound for Thompson to start the game and pitched a gem. Lillie allowed just five hits and no runs while striking out six on the day to lead the Warriors to the opening game win in just six innings.
Game 2. Thompson 1 – Vestavia 0
The second member of Thompson’s two-headed pitching monster, Poplin, took the mound for the Warriors in the second game of the series. Poplin hurled seven innings, only threw 54 pitches and allowed just two hits in the game while also surrendering no runs.
The only run of the second game came in the top of the third inning. Brammer laid down a bunt on the first pitch of the third inning, and advanced all the way to third base when Sonny Potter, the Vestavia pitcher, overthrew the first baseman. Reach singled just two pitches later to bring Brammer home. The Warriors offense could not muster much more the rest of the way, but Poplin made sure the sliver of a lead was enough to win the game and the series.
The Warriors have run the gauntlet in their first two rounds of the state tournament, knocking off the top two teams in the state to advance to the semifinals. Thompson will take on Sparkman in the semifinals for a shot at the state title.