THOMSON — For the first time in school history, the Thomson Bulldogs are preparing to venture into unchartered waters — the semifinals of the Class AAA state baseball playoffs.
The Bulldogs swept the third-round series against Gainesville, 14-7 in Game 1 and 13-1 in Game 2 on Tuesday.
The season has now come to an end for the Gainesville Red Elephants (28-5), who came into the series against Thomson, ranked No. 2 in the state.
Thomson, ranked No. 8 in the latest state poll, will square off against Columbus in a doubleheader Monday in Columbus.
Never before has a Thomson baseball team gotten this deep into the playoffs.
“It’s a great feeling,” Thomson coach Jason Osborn said. “This is a special group of players and I’m proud that they have done as well as they have in the playoffs. This team has really come a long way this season.”
Thomson (26-4) got fine performances from starting pitchers Abram Cartledge in Game 1 and Andy Grimaud in Game 2.
Cartledge, a junior southpaw, worked five complete innings, yielding eight hits. Three of those hits were solo home runs to Gainesville’s Sloan Strickland in the top of the fifth and solo shots by David Gonzalez and Michael Lorentz in the sixth inning.
He was relieved by Nick Rau, who finished the game striking out four of the eight batters he faced.
Gainesville took an early 4-0 lead in Game 1, but starting pitcher Hunter Anglin, who came into the series with a 10-1 record, began having control problems and was tagged for 11 hits and 11 runs before being relieved by Ryan Griffith in the bottom of the fourth with the Red Elephants trailing 11-4.
Thomson senior third baseman Cody Ewest hit his ninth and 10th homeruns of the season in Game 1.
Grimaud went the distance and hurled a three-hitter in Game 2, which was cut short due to the run limit in the sixth inning.
The biggest uprising of that game came in the fifth inning when Thomson erupted for nine runs — capped by a grand slam from Rau. It was Rau’s 12th home run and his second grand slam of the season.