STORY/PHOTOS: Hitting in history: Thompson goes 1-1 at historic Rickwood Field
By ALEC ETHERDGE | Sports Editor
BIRMINGHAM – The lights shined bright onto America’s oldest ballpark as the Thompson Warriors took to Rickwood Field on a cloudy Friday, March 24, in a two-game series on one of the most historical baseball fields in the world.
Rickwood Field opened on Aug. 18, 1910, and almost 107 years later, the site, that has hosted players such as Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, Honus Wagner and Burleigh Grimes, is now hosting high school teams in a setting unlike any other.
The Warriors (11-12) got the privilege of taking on Bob Jones and Ramsay in back-to-back games under the lights winning one of two in the experience of a lifetime. Thompson’s pitching was sharp in both games, holding the two teams to a combined three runs after a 2-1 loss to Bob Jones and an 8-1 win over Ramsay.
Game 1. Thompson 1 Bob Jones 2
Game one featured an exciting first matchup on the field, but the Warriors couldn’t dig themselves out of a 2-0 hole they climbed into after the top of the first inning as they went on to fall 2-1.
That two-run first inning by Bob Jones was possible thanks to two of Thompson’s five errors in the game. With the two errors, a stolen base and an RBI single, the Patriots were able to easily bring home both guys.
Warriors’ pitcher Drew Williams really settled in after that top half of the first, however, as he went on to shutout Bob Jones for the remainder of the game only giving up three more hits. With him hitting his stride, it was up to the Thompson offense to give him some help, but with opposing pitcher Dylan Ray also having a stellar performance on the mound, that obstacle proved harder than it seemed.
Over the first four innings, Ray only gave up one single and two walks while striking out six of his game-high seven as he held the Warriors scoreless for the first four innings. Finally, in the bottom of the fifth, Thompson put together their first threat of the game.
Braden Ashmead singled to start the inning, which was followed by a sac bunt from JD Kytle and a fielder’s choice from Bryson Miller to bring Ashmead home to cut the lead to 2-1. That, however, was the only run Ray gave up as he settled back in and gave up just one hit over the final two innings to preserve the win.
Neither team’s stat line jumped off the page as eight different guys combined for one hit in the game.
Game 2. Thompson 8 Ramsay 1
Just like game one, the Warriors’ pitching came up strong in game two as Sam Pearce and Will Morris combined for just one run and five hits over seven innings. The difference in game two was Thompson’s bats finally decided to wake up as they went off for 13 hits and eight runs in an 8-1 win over the Rams.
Like the Patriots had done to them in the previous matchup, the Warriors jumped all over Ramsay in the top of the first as they exploded for six of their eight runs to steal momentum right away.
Thompson strung together two singles, an error, two more singles and two doubles to drive in all six runs before an out was even recorded. After a change on the mound, the Rams were able to get three consecutive outs to end the inning, but not before the Warriors had batted through the lineup.
After Ramsay scored one in the bottom of the second, Thompson only allowed two more hits and three more baserunners over the final five innings, while adding two more insurance runs to preserve an easy 8-1 win.
Ashmead led the way at the plate going 1-2 with three RBIs after his first-inning double. Colby McClain also picked up multiple RBIs with two thanks to a double of his own. Myles Brown, Josh Huner and Chris Lewis all had multi-hit games going 2-3 in the batter’s box.
Thompson went on to finish their weekend out with an 8-2 win over Calera and a second one-run loss of the weekend in a 5-4 loss to Hillcrest as they moved to 11-12 overall this season.