THOMSON --- Even if other pitchers were getting ready in case they were needed, the game still belonged to Abe Cartledge.
The Thomson starter finished with 12 strikeouts and got help from his defense late as the Bulldogs beat Cross Creek, 4-1 on Saturday afternoon in a Region 3-AAA Tournament semifinal game.
With the victory, Thomson advanced to Thursday's region championship game against Harlem to battle for a No. 1 seed in the state tournament.
"It was his game to finish," Bulldogs coach Jason Osborn said. "He did the job for us."
After Cross Creek's Tyler Groomes singled with one out in the second, Cartledge didn't allow a hit to the next 17 batters, retiring 12 in a row at one point during the stretch.
Despite going through some slight command troubles, Cartledge remained dominant.
He said he took his time and started hitting the zone, and at one point he struck out four of six batters.
Thomson grabbed a 1-0 advantage on a Will Tankersley sacrifice fly in the first inning, but the Bulldogs didn't add to their lead until the fourth.
Cross Creek pitchers Cory Arnold and Bryson Stack held the Thomson offense to only one hit until the two-run fourth inning, which the Bulldogs' Nick Rau started with a double down the third-base line.
After Stack struck out a hitter, the Razorbacks (16-9) went with D.J. Johnson.
However, Austin Cooper added the first insurance run with an RBI single, and an error following an infield hit from Josh Jones plated another run.
In the next inning, Rau came through again, this time with an RBI single to make it 4-0.
It looked like Thomson would coast from there, but Cross Creek battled in its last inning.
Jacob Lazenby hit a ball down the line for a double, but following an umpires discussion, the ball was ruled foul.
Lazenby became Cartledge's final strikeout victim.
Groomes doubled and Kh'Ron McClain singled as the tying run stood on deck.
But Thomson's defense secured the win as Tankersley made a tough catch as he was going back in left field to hold Bradley Miller to only a sacrifice fly for an RBI.
With the tying run still only one batter away, Thomson second baseman Hank Doupe sealed the region title game appearance with a catch on a well-struck low line drive.
"They got a few more bounces than we did, but the effort was there," Cross Creek coach Tavis Cummings said. "We can play with anybody."