Thompson shuts out Vestavia, one win away from playoffs

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

ALABASTER – One game. That’s all that separates the Thompson Warriors from a spot in the 2018 postseason after shutting out Vestavia 3-0 on Tuesday, April 17.

The Warriors swept Tuscaloosa County last week, which set up the opportunity for Thompson to sweep Vestavia this week in a two-game series to clinch a spot in the postseason.

With one win out of the way, it’s simple. Win and Thompson’s season continues into the postseason as the two-seed out of Class 7A Area 5; lose and the team’s season comes to an end.

While it sounds nerve-wracking, it’s a moment this team will embrace and has had on its mind since last year’s season came to an end in an almost identical situation where the Rebels ended Thompson’s season in the final game.

The reason Thompson is in this situation for the second year in a row is largely due to pitcher Sam Pearce. The senior went out and tossed a complete-game allowing just three hits and striking out four batters on 80 pitches to pick up a win in arguably the biggest start of his career.

He did exactly what he needed to do to give his team a chance to win, and the offense didn’t let him down.

After tossing a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the first, Pearce got all of the run support he needed in the home half of the inning.

It started with a single from Nick Freeman, who eventually stole second with two outs on the board to put a runner in scoring position during Sawyer Pate’s at bat.

Pate wasn’t going to leave Freeman stranded out there and on the fourth pitch of the bat, he laced a single up the middle that allowed Freeman to round third and come home for the first run of the game.

The next two innings went by without any runs, but Thompson took advantage of its next two opportunities to add insurance runs in the fourth and fifth innings.

J.C. Parker led the bottom of the fourth off with a single, but that was followed by two consecutive outs.

Parker continued Thompson’s trend of aggressive base running, however, and eventually moved into scoring position with a stolen base. After a walk to Breydon Edmondson walked, Grayton Arrington stepped to the plate and drove in Parker with an RBI-single to right field for Thompson’s second run of the game.

Leading 2-0, Nick Walker decided the Warriors needed another run in the bottom of the fifth. He led the inning off with a triple to quickly put Thompson in business.

Myles Brown wasn’t going to miss an opportunity at an RBI and hit a sac fly deep to right field during the next at bat to bring Walker home for the 3-0 lead.

Thompson got two more singles in the inning but couldn’t score another run.

Vestavia went on to pick up two more hits during the final two innings, both of which were doubles to put runners in scoring position, but the Rebels were unable to take advantage of either hit as Pearce got out of each jam.

Parker and Pate both went 2-for-3 at the plate, while Brown, Freeman, Arrington and Walker each had one hit. The three RBIs came from Brown, Pate and Arrington.

Thursday’s game to determine who will advance to the postseason starts at 4:30 p.m. and will take place at Vestavia Hills High School.