Thompson opens new stadium on opening day

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor 

ALABASTER – Despite hosting two Class 6A playoff teams from a season ago, including the defending 6A state champion Hazel Green, the Thompson Warriors were able to see plenty of positive signs on Monday, Feb. 19, as they opened the season by splitting a two games in their new stadium.

It marked the first games played at Thompson’s stadium at the new high school, and while it got off to a rocky start with a 13-1 loss to the defending state champ in Hazel Green, the Warriors were able to bounce back with a 9-7 victory against Austin, who was knocked out of the playoffs last year by Hazel Green.

Against the Trojans, Thompson was just unable to get any sort of momentum at the plate, while also allowing 10 hits and committing four errors defensively.

While one run was the only damage through the first two innings, Hazel Green was able to put together 12 combined runs between the third and fourth innings, while Thompson could only muster up one run in the bottom of the fifth as an answer to drop the opener 13-1.

Thompson’s two hits and lone RBI came from Breydon Edmondson, while Grayton Arrington added two walks.

While it was a tough start to the season, Thompson had a few hours before their next game against Austin, as the Warriors looked to bounce back later that day, which is exactly what happened.

In a thrilling back-and-forth game that saw the lead change hands four different times, Thompson was able to use a six run sixth inning to pull away for a 9-7 victory.

Heading into the bottom half of the sixth, Thompson trailed Austin 6-3, but pitcher control from Austin quickly became an issue.

The Warriors started the inning off with a single from Arrington, but that was followed by three consecutive walks, the latter of which allowed Arrington to score, while also loading the bases.

One batter later, Josh Roberts hit a pop fly to right field, but an error allowed the ball to hit the ground, which then brought in Trey Puckett to make it a 6-5 game.

Two more walks in a row after that not only brought in the game-tying scored by Will Kies, but it also brought in the go-ahead run as Mason Yancey crossed the plate to give Thompson a 7-6 lead with no outs in the inning.

After a strikeout, Harrison Poplin and Arrington laced back-to-back singles, as the Warriors had batted around the order to take a 9-6 advantage at the end of six. The crazy thing was three of the batters during that stretch were pinch hitters, all but one of whom scored.

Poplin, who entered the game in the top of the fifth, took to the mound and looked to close the game out in the top of the seventh. He allowed two early walks, but that was followed by three consecutive outs, only allowing one fielder’s-choice run to cross the plate, giving the Warriors a 9-7 victory.

Early in the game, Thompson fell behind 2-0 after the top half of the first, but the Warriors responded with a run from Edmondson in the bottom half of the inning thanks to a deep fly ball by Arrington that resulted in an error.

Thompson then took its first lead of the game two innings later when a fielder’s choice by Edmondson and a single form Arrington drove in two more runs for a 3-2 advantage.

Austin used two walks, two singles and two errors to score four runs in the top of the fifth to jump back in front, but Thompson got the final lead change with its six-run answer in the bottom of the sixth.

Arrington went 3-for-4 in the game with two RBIs and one run scored, while AJ Bonham and Poplin added the only other hits for the Warriors. Both added an RBI as well, while Carson Hobbs, Yancey and Edmondson also added RBIs with their walks.

On the mound, Edmondson went four innings and allowed five hits, six runs, two of which were earned, and five walks, while striking out six. Poplin closed out the final three innings allowing just one run and two walks, while striking out one.