The significance of the Dawson-Lumpkin rivalry has risen to an important place for their respective baseball programs, much like it did this past fall in the football world.
After finishing last season near the basement of Region 7-3A, Lumpkin has turned around their program and accumulated a 16-4 overall record so far.
But more relevant to the Tigers, the two foes are battling for second place in the region, with the two teams separated by just one game in the region standings after their recent series. Dawson sits at 8-4 while Lumpkin is at 9-3.(Story continues below)
The Tigers took the first two games of the series 4-1 at home and 5-2 on the road through the steady hands of pitchers Trey Harvey and Banks Hickman — neither of whom allowed an earned run in their complete-game performances.
Lumpkin wrapped up the series with a 5-1 win on Dawson's Alumni Night, where many faces from the program's past showed up and were recognized. Clarence Denard, the Tigers' first head baseball coach, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
In the first two games of the series, Harvey struck out 10 batters in his outing while also keeping himself under 100 pitches while Hickman’s efficient pitching placement forced plenty of soft contact to keep the Indians at bay.
Following the 5-2 win on the road, head coach Logan Burt was impressed by Hickman's poise in the face of a game that went down to the final inning.
“The kid’s a competitor. He was looking forward to this one after last week,” Burt said. “Tonight, he was back to himself. He fills up the zone with a three-pitch mix, keeps [batters] guessing up there and they’re never comfortable in the box.”
One of many bright offensive spots on the roster this season is Jacson Rickett, who continued his hot hitting in this series.
Going 3-for-4 in the series opener, Rickett also played an important role in the road win. With the score knotted up at 2-2 heading into the seventh inning, Rickett hit a double that sparked the game’s decisive frame.
After an infield single by Sawyer Bearden, senior Colton Rucker laid down a well-placed bunt before speeding his way to first base, forcing the Lumpkin catcher to hesitate and allow the bases to load.
A balk would bring in a run before a Davis Glass RBI single brought the score to 4-2. After that, Elijah Odom hit a fly ball that was dropped by the outfielder and allowed one more Dawson run to score.
In the bottom half of the inning, Hickman continued his solid day on the mound, forcing two quick outs before Lumpkin got a man on base.
And just when the Tigers needed a big defensive play, Rickett came charging in from left field to make a diving catch on a blooper to end the game and hand Dawson the series win.
Burt admired the team’s late-game execution to set up the go-ahead run-scoring opportunities.
“I was really proud of the guys,” Burt said. “We work in our batting practice setting and we’re talking about those situations late in the game. We always put the pressure on [the players] and tell them to execute, and we did that tonight.”.
The Tigers could not get the bats going against Lumpkin in the series finale, scoring their only run in the final inning. Joshua Priest had a strong start to his outing before the Indians broke the game open with a four-run fifth inning.
Dawson will now face the most challenging series of the season, playing region leaders Pickens next week — with two of those games on the road. The series opener at Pickens is set for Tuesday, April 4, before the Tigers head home on Thursday. The two teams will wrap it up in Jasper on Friday.