Warriors split series to end season
By BAKER ELLIS / Sports Editor
ALABASTER – The Thompson baseball Warriors will not be returning to the 7A baseball playoffs this season. After finishing area play with a 3-3 record, Thompson finished the year on the outside looking in at Hoover and Oak Mountain, the two teams that will represent the area in the playoffs. However, once Thompson was out of contention for a playoff berth, the Warriors’ season was not over, as they welcomed in Central-Phenix City for a season-finale doubleheader on April 23. Both games of the doubleheader were decided by a single run, and both games went into extra innings, as Thompson split the series with the visiting Red Devils, ending its season with a 24-20 record.
Game 1. Thompson 6 – Central-Phenix City 5
The Warriors took an early 5-0 lead heading into the third inning of the opening game and hung on to beat the Red Devils 6-5 in extra innings. Lance Johnson scored in the bottom of the first via a Jonathan Crawford single, and Heath Haskins followed suit moments later when Brady Kies smacked a single to left field, giving Thompson an early 2-0 lead. The Warriors added three more runs in the bottom of the second when Garrett Chandler, Matthew Blaes and Johnson all scored, taking an early 5-0 lead.
Central-Phenix City came roaring back in the third inning, however, scoring four runs and trimming Thompson’s lead to one. The 5-4 score held until the seventh inning, when the Red Devils scored the tying run, forcing extra innings.
After Thompson held Central-Phenix City scoreless in the top of the eighth, Crawford led off the bottom of the inning and took the second pitch he saw to right field for a triple. Three batters later he scored on a passed ball, giving Thompson the narrow 6-5 victory.
JC Goolsby threw the first seven innings for Thompson, tossing 112 pitches, giving up five runs on nine hits while striking out four before Haskins came in to pitch the eighth inning. Haskins, Crawford and Johnson each had two hits and an RBI as well to lead Thompson from the plate.
Game 2. Central-Phenix City 3 – Thompson 2
The Red Devils scored twice in the top of the third to take an early 2-0 lead, which held all the way to the bottom of the seventh inning. In the bottom of the seventh, Chandler and Layton Waldrop drew back-to-back one-out walks to put runners at first and second, and Chandler was then brought home when Grier singled to right field. Riley Reach then drew a seven-pitch walk, moving Waldrop to third before he was eventually brought home thanks to Johnson, who grounded into a fielder’s choice to score Waldrop and tie the game, forcing extras.
The second game did not end in the same way the first did however, as Central-Phenix City plated a run in the top of the eighth, and the Red Devils needed only six total pitches in the bottom of the eighth to retire the Thompson side, winning the second game by a 3-2 score.
Blaes pitched the entire second game for Thompson, throwing a gem of an effort in the loss. Blaes needed just 88 pitches to get through eight innings of work, giving up just two earned runs on five hits while striking out six.
Five different Warrior batters had one hit a piece in the second game to lead Thompson from the plate.
Thompson ended the season with a 24-20 record.