The Thomson Diamond Dogs wound up summer practice with a scrimmage Friday.

Close to 100 fans were at Bulldog Field to see the team under new Bulldog head coach, Nick Rau, as the squad got a chance to play under game conditions.

“This gives the players a chance to make sure we are all on the same page and that we have things in line with what is expected,” Rau said.

Rau, an economics teacher at THS, took over for Brad Smith, who resigned head coaching responsibilities April 25 to spend more time with his family.

Rau is a 2011 THS graduate and was a stand-out player while in high school, according to the high school.

He played college ball at Georgia Southern and later Augusta University. He ended his baseball career in the American Association with the Lincoln Saltdogs in Nebraska.

For the past two years, he served as an assistant coach with the THS program.

The game Friday ended with the dark jerseys winning 5-0 over the light jerseys, but the game was more about awareness than score.

“The players have progressed in a very positive way this summer,” said Rau. “We had a whole week of intensive practice and the players were out early in the batting cage and making progress. This game was about being on the ball under game conditions.”

The coach said the team will rely on incoming players with several being able to step in to make an impact.

“We look forward to competing in region play,” said Rau. “Cross Creek’s head coach left for Washington County, and it looks like the team to beat this year will be Burke County.”

Rau tipped his hat to Smith.

“I learned ways to manage a team and players,” said Rau. “I know the game well and how to teach the game, but managing and handling relationship is a different level, and you have to know your team and players.”

Rau named a number of good coaches he had played for and said he brings much of that to the Thomson program.

“I kind of blended it together and shared the best in this effort,” the coach said, adding that mixing old school discipline with new concepts will pay off.

“Honestly, we are running it like a college program, from signs to play calling. Baseball is baseball and repetition is critical and the players are getting a lot of those.”

Rau said winter camps and summer camps, along with a golf tourney in October were among fund raising plans in addition to the annual Diamond Day and chicken dinner sale.

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