The Dawson County Tigers' baseball team became region runners-up last Friday when they defeated the North Hall Trojans at home to earn the series win.
The win gave the Tigers their second straight 20-win season.
"It is exciting to get another 20-win season," said Head Coach Dwayne Sapp. "They are hard to come by. These guys who have been here for two years have celebrated 42 times over two years."
Dawson was able to get home wins on April 17 (6-5) and April 21 (7-2) while dropping the road game to the Trojans on April 19 (6-1).
"The North Hall series was really a big stepping stone for this year and the future," said Sapp about the wins. "It may have been one of the biggest series wins in school history. They were ranked at No. 1 all year or at least in the top five most of the season.
"I hope with this our boys will finally believe we can play with anyone in the state."
The team played well enough to take down the North Hall Trojans during the three-game series that would decide the runner-up position in the region.
The Tigers opened the series on April 17 when they hosted the Trojans at Tiger Stadium. Dawson won that matchup 6-5 in the bottom of the seventh following a weather delay.
The game was scoreless through the first two innings with efficient work from the mound by Noah Davis. Davis pitched five innings for the Tigers with six strikeouts and three runs.
During the third inning, North Hall put two men on via a walk and what was called a batter being hit by a pitch despite both umpires admitting to not actually having seen it.
Dawson was able to get out of the jam, however, with a deep catch in left by Kolton Brumbelow and a ground out courtesy of the fielding of Connor Bearden and Brise Henson.
At the bottom of the inning, Jacob Gloeckner drove a ball into left center field for a single. Palmer Sapp then scored them both on his home run to put the Tigers ahead 2-0.
North Hall went to work in the fourth after loading the bases on a walk and two perfectly placed bunts. A ground out scored one and a double brought in two more for the Trojans to take the lead at 3-2.
As play moved to the fifth, dark clouds continued to roll in and the Tigers went three up and down.
During the sixth, the Trojans loaded up bases again with two walks and another bunt with Reed McAllister on the mound. An RBI from a walk prompted another change to senior pitcher Colin Glover.
He threw one ball that resulted in a ground out and the Tigers got out of the top of the sixth. In the bottom of the inning, the bats warmed up and Dawson began the comeback.
Bearden led off with a hard shot down the right base line for a single.
Luke Martin reached on a fielder's choice before Henson hit a shot to center for a single.
Then Austin Young hit a long double that scored Martin but the second runner was called out sliding into home.
Nate Sorrells hit a hard single that scored Young and bring the Tigers to within one run.
Gloeckner's RBI single tied the game and brought the crowd to life.
Glover went back to work on the mound and had two strikeouts in the final inning to give Dawson a chance in the bottom of the seventh, but lightning and thunder prompted a delay and the crowd dispersed.
Once the all clear was given roughly 45 minutes later, Hudson Sapp reached on a walk and Brumbelow was hit by a pitch before Bearden also reached on a walk to load the bases.
Martin smacked a walk-off single to give the Tigers the win.
When the Tigers traveled to Gainesville on April 19, they did not find the same success as they lost 6-1.
Dawson stranded runners in four out of seven innings making it tough to battle back as North Hall consistently put runners on and brought them in.
The Tigers went through six pitchers in the contest. Bearden was first from the mound.
In the opening inning, Hudson Sapp reached on a single and stole a base but was left aboard.
The Trojans led off with a double to center field and subsequent batter hit by a pitch. Bearden then walked the following batter to load the bases before walking a run in and prompting Sapp to switch to Glover.
North Hall took a 2-0 lead into the second inning where Young reached on a single but was left on base.
Young went 3-for-3 in the game with a double and two singles.
In the second, the Trojans precision bunting once again came into play after the first up reached on an error. A walk again loaded the bases for North Hall and a fielder's choice gave them another RBI.
Another Tigers' fielding error put a runner on and an RBI single made the lead 4-0.
Dawson's only run came in the top of the third when Gloeckner reached on a hard hit single to center field and then stole a base. Brumbelow scored him on a stand-up double.
Glover worked the longest of all the pitchers going three and one-third innings with three walks and one strikeout on two runs.
Trojan bunting put two more on base and scored another in the fifth.
In the sixth, Brumbelow got on again with a hard single down the third-base line, but was picked off attempting to steal second. A diving catch by the center fielder kept Bearden from reaching.
Palmer Sapp had back-to-back spectacular stops at short to get the Tigers off the field in the sixth, but Dawson could not score Sorrells and Young who had reached on an error and single.
The series-deciding game came on April 21 at Tiger Stadium when Dawson County jumped out to an early lead in the first off a Bearden single that drove in two.
The Trojans evened things in the second after a batter was hit by a Hudson Sapp pitch and another walked before a single would bring two in.
In the third inning, Davis came in on the mound to get the win. He pitched four innings only allowing two hits and one walk while striking out four.
For the final out of the third, Gloeckner had a spectacular grab as he backed up Bearden at first who missed the ball due to the sunlight.
The Dawson offense went back to work in the fifth when Gloeckner led off with a single to center before stealing second.
Palmer Sapp reached on a single and a runner was scored on an error before Brumbelow would reach on a bunt.
Bearden then picked up his third and fourth RBIs of the night with a single.
Sorrells then hit a sacrifice fly to add another run.
The Tiger defense made quick work of the Trojans in the sixth and the Tigers picked up their final run in the sixth on a Hudson Sapp double.
The win clinched the series as well as the No. 2 spot in the region and a No. 2 seed in the Class AAA state tournament with first-round home field advantage.
Dawson hosts the Lovett Lions beginning at 5 p.m. on April 28 at Tiger Stadium. If a third game is required, it will be at 3 p.m. on April 29.
The Lions are the defending state champions.
"Lots of tradition and championships," said Sapp. "They will be very good and prepared for us. We will have to play our best. This is more like an Elite Eight than a first round opponent."