"We found out we've got a group of kids that aren't quitters," Thomson coach Jason Osborn said after his team's season-ending loss. "We're a young team and we gained a lot of experience from getting this far into the state playoffs. I'm so proud of these boys. To get beat hurts, but you move on."
The Bulldogs and Blue Devils split a doubleheader on Monday. Thomson won Game 1, 6-2. Columbus came back to win Game 2, 21-7, setting up the do-or-die Game 3.
"I can't believe it," longtime Columbus coach Bobby Howard said. "We were lucky. We got some breaks. Thomson gave us a good fight -- they really did. They have a good team and they are well coached."
Thomson finishes its best-ever season 27-6.
"We got better every year," Thomson third baseman Cody Ewest said. "Nobody expected us to get this far. That was pretty special."
Columbus (30-5) advances to the state championship round against Ringgold. The series begins Friday in Columbus.
Ewest, one of three seniors on the Bulldogs' squad, was a starter for four years under Osborn and former head coach Terry Holder.
Thomson's Abram Cartledge, who won his 12th game of the season in Game 1 on Monday, came right back as the starter in Game 3.
Earlier Tuesday, the junior said he talked with Osborn about taking the mound again.
"I told him I could go again," Cartledge said. "I felt good about it. It was about team."
Unlike his performances in the first three rounds of the state playoffs, Cartledge didn't have his best stuff in Game 3. And for that matter, neither did Andy Grimaud nor Nick Rau -- both of whom pitched in relief.
Cartledge allowed four runs during three innings. Grimaud and Rau each gave up two runs.
Will Tankersley hit a two-run homer for Thomson. Cartledge also homered.