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BASEBALL: Tigers show grit in 17-16 marathon win over Wesleyan, drop close games to finish series
The Tigers celebrate as Julian Horner comes to home plate following his grand slam against Wesleyan on Tuesday, March 21. - photo by Rio White

With a tightly-packed group at the top of Region 7-3A’s baseball standings starting to form, Dawson County earned an important win and experienced a test of resolve in a 17-16 home victory over Wesleyan on Tuesday, March 21. 

The Tigers later dropped the next two games of the series, falling 8-5 on the road before Wesleyan rallied to win 10-7 in the series finale. 

The back-and-forth opening game showed two realities for the Tigers — that their offense was making significant strides and that their defense will continue to be challenged by some of the stronger bats in the region.

Head coach Logan Burt admired the team’s collective effort to keep fighting in the face of multiple lead changes during the game.

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“I thought we did a great job…every time Wesleyan came in and scored, we’d come up and score one more, two more, however many we needed,” Burt said. “We try to teach that message in our program — just being resilient.”

Starting pitcher Trey Harvey had an unusually tough night on the mound, with Dawson’s ace allowing six walks and 10 hits to Wesleyan, whose offense also took advantage of multiple defensive errors behind Harvey.

But the Tigers offense was more than ready to match their opponents, with every batter in the order getting on base at some point in the game.

Sophomore Jacson Rickett continued his recent offensive success, with the lefty belting three hits and driving in three runs. 

Once again, the highlight-reel moment of the night belonged to junior Julian Horner, who blasted a grand slam in the second inning to put Dawson up 5-2 at that point.

After each team traded blows in the opening three frames, the defining moments of the game occurred in the fourth inning. 

Up 8-4 heading into that inning, the Tigers yielded a run to Wesleyan before the Wolves recorded consecutive outs — giving Dawson a chance to minimize the damage.

But Harvey’s control eluded him at the wrong time, giving up three straight walks before the visitors wrested control of the game with a grand slam of their own.

And just as the Wolves put themselves in front 11-8, the Tigers quickly answered in the bottom half of the inning.

Through their plate discipline and efficient hitting, Dawson chipped away at the deficit until they got back out front, eventually scoring nine runs to lead 17-11.

Wesleyan later made a comeback attempt, scoring four runs in the sixth inning and another in the seventh before stranding a runner in scoring position as the final out was confirmed by a Joshua Priest strikeout. 

After Wesleyan rebounded with their win on Thursday, March 23, the Tigers came back home to wrap up the series on Friday.

Despite taking a 7-0 lead, which included another Horner home run, Wesleyan made a late comeback to deny Dawson the series win. Priest had a solid day on the mound, giving up three runs in six innings. 

But in the decisive seventh inning, a group of relief pitchers could not put away the opposition, yielding seven more runs and allowing the Wolves to take the lead.

With the Tigers unable to score in the bottom half of that inning, Dawson fell to a 10-7 overall record with a 6-3 region mark.