The 2009 Tiger baseball season ended last Friday with a doubleheader loss to Banks County, 15-5 and 18-5, in Dawsonville. The team finished the season with a 7-11 overall record. The team lost six of their last seven games.
“We were just flat with the long lay-off,” said Coach Jimmy Pruett. “We just couldn’t get things going.”
The team was off 17 days with spring break and the weather washing away games that were scheduled during that time.
Banks County had 10 seniors on its roster compared to Dawson’s two seniors. “They have a lot of experience and it showed today. Their seniors really played well today,” said Coach Pruett.
The Tigers seemed to have turned the corner in their last game of the season by defeating Rabun County 11-0 in six innings. Senior Ren Buttram pitched a superb game, notching 12 strikeouts while only giving up one hit.
The offense also started to show some improvement as the Tigers pounded out eight hits. They were led by Chase Gilreath who had three hits, two that left the yard.
Jacob Barr also had a good day at the plate with two hits. Gilreath and Barr scored three runs each.
“Our guys felt good after this win,” Pruett said. “I thought maybe we had turned the corner.”
The win against Rabun assured Dawson of a second place finish in the North half of Region 8-AA. They would host Banks County who came in third place in the South half of the region.
In the first game of the Region 8-AA playoffs Banks scored in each inning.
The Leopards crossed the plate four times in the fourth inning and six times in the fifth inning to put the game out of reach.
With one out in the first inning, Leopard third baseman Stephen Smith hit a long home run against Tiger starter Buttram, putting Banks up 1-0.
Dawson answered in their half of the inning when Barr connected on a homer off Leopard starter Kasey Hudgins, tying the game 1-1.
Banks took the lead 5-1 in the 3rd inning.
The Tigers wouldn’t give up, answering with four runs of their own to tie the score at 5-5.
The inning started when Caleb Thurmond reached first on a dropped strike three call.
Barr reached on a hit and Kaleb Holbrook hit a sacrifice fly to left field, driving in Thurmond.
The big blast of the inning came off the bat of Chase Williams. Williams’ homer drove in three runs.
But the Leopards put the game out of reach in the fourth and fifth innings.
They collected nine hits in those two innings to finish the Tigers off. Banks accumulated 15 hits for the game.
Dawson only managed four hits for the contest.
“Banks really hit the ball well. That is a pretty good baseball team. Our guys didn’t quit but it was really tough losing that first game,” Pruett said.
The second game didn’t go much better for the Tigers.
The Tigers jumped out to a 1-0 lead with another leadoff homer from the bat of Barr.
Dawson added to that lead in the second with two more runs.
Cody Marshall led off the inning with a single. Barr was hit by a pitch, putting runners on first and second.
Doubles by Holbrook and Gilreath allowed Marshall and Barr to score, giving Dawson a 3-0 lead.
That lead evaporated quickly as Leopard Justin Bowen homered in the second, sparking Banks to five runs and a 5-3 lead.
Dawson answered in the top half of the third inning by scoring two runs and tying the game at 5-5.
Bearden loaded the bases with a walk.
The big hit of the inning came off the bat of Marshall to drive in two runs.
It turned out to be all the scoring Dawson would do.
Banks answered with three runs in the third, seven runs in the fourth, and three runs in the fifth, as they ran away with the 18-5 victory. They will advance to play at Jefferson. The Dragons are the No. 1 seed from the Region 8-AA south. The playoffs will begin on Thursday.
Dawson’s season ends with the departure of two seniors, Barr and Buttram.
“We will surely miss them. They have really done a good job of keeping this team together. Those two will be hard to replace,” Pruett said.