Thompson uses walk-off homer to keep postseason hope alive
By SETH HAGAN | For the Reporter
ALABASTER – Thompson baseball is still alive in the 7A playoff race thanks to a sweep of Tuscaloosa County with one win on Tuesday, April 10, and two wins on Thursday, April 12, where the Warriors held on to win each game by two runs or less taking down the Wildcats 9-8, 7-6 and 7-5, respectively.
The third and final game didn’t count toward the Warriors’ area record, which improved to 2-2 after winning the first two games to keep their postseason aspirations alive.
The real drama came in the first game of the day when Thompson (20-16) seemed to be in control of the game, but ended up winning in thrilling fashion.
After Tuscaloosa County tied the game in the top of the seventh inning, the Warriors were hoping for the walk-off win in the bottom half of the inning.
After two quick outs in just five pitches, it wasn’t looking good, but que Colby McClain. Sitting in a 2-2 county, McClain was a strike away from the game going to extra innings.
On the fifth pitch he saw, however, McClain hit a fly ball deep to left field that cleared the wall for a solo-shot, walk-off home run for the 7-6 win.
Both teams got the offense going early and often, as the Wildcats of Tuscaloosa County jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning on back-to-back doubles and a single with two outs.
Thompson broke out the big bats in response.
Nick Freeman took a walk to get the Warriors on base and was the first of five consecutive base runners for Thompson.
Warriors’ starting pitcher J.C. Parker helped his own cause as well when he hit a single to drive in Freeman on the next at bat before advancing to second base on the throw to home plate.
After a hit by pitch added another runner, McClain stepped to the plate and singled home his other two RBIs of the game to give the Warriors their first lead at 3-2.
McClain later scored on a sacrifice fly after advancing to third on Breydon Edmondson’s double.
Thompson ended up batting around the order when Nick Walker singled Edmondson home for the final run of the inning.
Both teams added a run in the third inning with Thompson maintaining its three run lead at 6-3, but trouble awaited Parker late in the game.
Parker hit the leadoff batter in the top of the sixth inning and nearly paid for it immediately as the next Wildcat batter doubled to center field.
It was a hit that looked like it was going to drive in a run, but Freeman came up big again throwing the runner out at home plate from center field to preserve the lead.
The Wildcats were still able to do damage in the inning with three hits in the next four batters to lower the deficit to one run, but that play saved what could have been a crucial run from scoring.
Andrew South came in for relief of Parker to finish the inning but couldn’t keep the Wildcats from tying the game in the top of the seventh.
Thompson did, however, do all it needed to do to give McClain his chance in the bottom of the seventh when he ripped the ball over the wall for the game winner.
The Warriors must now sweep their series with the No. 5 Vestavia Hills Rebels to secure the last playoff spot. The series begins Tuesday, April 17 at 6 p.m.