Thompson wins area series with Vestavia Hills in rubber-match game
Published 8:25 am Thursday, April 6, 2023
By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor
Should a playoff spot in Class 7A, Area 5 come down to a tie between the Thompson Warriors and Vestavia Hills Rebels, it will be the Warriors who get the nod after a crucial rubber-match win in the series finale between the two on Wednesday, April 5.
After Thompson won the first game in the series 12-4 on Tuesday, the Rebels came back to win the second game 4-3 with a walk-off win in extra innings to start Wednesday.
The Warriors, however, didn’t let the heartbreaking loss get to them, as they bounced back with a 9-5 win right after to take the series, which now gives them a tiebreaker advantage over the Rebels should the two finished tied for the area title or the second playoff spot in the area.
In the opening game of the series, Thompson’s offense was unstoppable for much of the night, scoring 11 combined runs between the third and fifth innings.
The Warriors took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first but ultimately fell behind 2-1 through the top of the third.
The bottom of the third, however, swung the game in Thompson’s favor.
Not only did a bases-loaded walk to Ben Pearman bring home the game-tying run, but Wyatt Williams followed with a grand slam on the first pitch of his at bat to quickly make it 6-2.
Vestavia Hills responded with two runs in the top of the fourth to draw within two runs, but a two-run home run from Drake McBride gave Thompson the four-run advantage right back in the bottom of the fourth.
That became plenty of cushion for the Warriors, who went on to score four more in the bottom of the fifth to put away the eight-run victory.
McBride led the way at the plate with a 2-for-2 game featuring four RBIs with two walks and two runs scored, while Williams added four RBIs on his grand slam. Pearman and Ethan Crook both added two RBIs each with Crook totaling two hits and Pearman one.
On the mound, Landon Alton got the complete-game win, allowing two earned runs on seven hits with two walks and five strikeouts.
In the second game of the series, Thompson fell behind 3-0 through three innings, but the Warriors responded with a big three-run fourth inning to tie the game.
A thrilling battle ensued, as neither team could pick up the game-winning run through seven innings, leading to extra innings.
In the first extra inning, however, the Rebels loaded the bases with no outs, eventually hitting a sac fly with one out to win in walk-off fashion and even the series at 1-1.
That led to a game three to determine who would earn the tiebreaker between the two in area play.
Again, Thompson faced an early 3-0 deficit through four innings, putting the Warriors in a challenging spot for the second game in a row.
This time, however, they didn’t just tie the game, they responded in the top of the fifth with a game-changing seven runs that put them in front 7-3.
Thompson went on to tack on two more runs in the top of the sixth to make it 9-3, while Vestavia only crossed the plate two more times in the bottom of the sixth, giving Thompson the rubber-match win by a score of 9-5.
McBride had another home run and finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs, while Pearman also had another big game with a 2-for-3 game featuring a double and two RBIs. Williams added two more RBIs as well with one single, while Crook picked up two hits and an RBI and Tucker Arrington finished with one hit and an RBI.
Pearman got the win on the mound, striking out six and giving up four earned runs on nine hits over six innings. Ashton Blair closed out the final inning, striking out one.