THOMSON --- With each round, Thomson knew it was getting closer to a rematch.
For the second consecutive season, the Bulldogs baseball team travels to play Columbus in the Georgia High School Association Class AAA state semifinals, which start today with a doubleheader beginning at 2 p.m. If today's games are split, a decisive third game would be played Tuesday. Thomson lost to Columbus in the best-of-three series last season.
"Ever since last year, we've worked hard as a team," Thomson's Nic Wood said. "They kind of stole it from us, I guess you could say."
Now it's time to return the favor.
Thomson won the Region 3-AAA championship again and has been strong offensively so far in the playoffs.
Thomson (28-2) has yet to lose a game in this year's state tournament, averaging more than 10 runs per game.
In going 6-0 in the state playoffs, 10 different players have notched multi-hit games, with Dontavis "Juicy" Brown doing it in all six contests.
Seven players hit home runs.
After Brown blasted two home runs in a game for the first time in an 11-0 win over Eastside in the second round, Jesse Usry hit his first career home run, helping the Bulldogs rally to a 5-4, series-clinching win over Allatoona in a the quarterfinals Tuesday.
Columbus (26-8) has lost the first game in each of the previous two rounds. The defending state champions have scored a total of three runs in their series openers. But Columbus has averaged over eight runs in other contests.
It was a similar story in the meeting with Thomson last year, as the Bulldogs won 6-2 before losing 21-7 and 8-4 to get eliminated.
Thomson coach Jason Osborn said his club wasn't intimidated by Columbus' tradition -- the Blue Devils have won nine state titles since 1991 -- but did say the difference will be keeping the Blue Devils from scoring.
Thomson's Abe Cartledge won the opening game in the series last season, but lost Game 3 the following day.
Cartledge said the series defeat still bothers him a bit, as he said he's looking forward to a second chance "really bad."
If Thomson does beat Columbus this time, not only would it get to play for its first state championship, but the Bulldogs would get to do it at home.
"It's something that's never happened around here," Usry said about the chance to play at home in the final series. "We can be a part of history."