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Tigers fall short
Baseball pic
Kaleb Kicklighter frames the ball against Walnut Grove last Friday in the final game of the season. The Tigers split a doubleheader winning the first game 12-7 before dropping the second game, in extra innings, 6-5. - photo by Ryan Coker Dawson Community News

It was a frustrating day for the Dawson County Tiger baseball team.


Head Coach Jimmy Pruett found out early in the first game of a doubleheader that the team had been eliminated from the region playoffs. Fannin County had defeated East Jackson to put the Rebels in and Dawson out.


Things got off to a rocky start for starter Chase Williams in the first game of the doubleheader. The Tigers came into the game on a 6-game winning streak.


Dawson looked flat, giving up three runs in the first inning and four runs in the second inning, quickly falling behind 7-0.


Chase Gilreath came on in relief of Williams and pitched 1.1 innings.


The story on the mound was the performance of Josh Harper.


Harper pitched the last four innings and shut down Walnut Grove. Allowing his team to take a 12-7 win.


Harper had five strikeouts and gave up only three hits.


“Josh was great,” said Pruett. “He came in and basically just shut Walnut Grove down.”


After falling behind by seven runs, Dawson put on a second inning rally. With one out, nine out of the next 10 batters reached base, scoring nine runs.


The highlight of the inning was a 2-run blast from the bat of Gilreath.


Also picking up timely hits were Austin Papaik, with two hits in the inning, Kaleb Kicklighter, Tyler King, Harper and Williams.


“That was a huge inning. It woke us up and we played better from then on out,” Pruett said.


The Tigers added two more runs in the third inning and one more run in the fifth to close out the win.


Pruett’s squad picked up 13 hits in the contest. Getting multiple hits were Papaik, Gilreath, Jacob Anglin, Harper, Kicklighter and King.


Eight Dawson seniors were honored between games. Graduating this season will be Chase Gilreath, Chase Williams, Mitch Starling, Ryan Morawsky, Olin Bearden, Dylan Garrett, Cody Marshall and Kaleb Kicklighter.


“It will be hard to replace these fine players. We will truly miss the sacrifice and dedication they have put into our program,” Pruett said.


Errors were the story of the second game. Dawson dropped its last game of the season 6-5 in eight innings. Dawson committed four costly errors.


Things looked promising as the Tigers jumped out to a 3-1 lead after two innings of play.


Tyler King got the inning started with a double with one out.


With two outs, Garrett singled to drive in King. Cody Marshall followed with a single and the big hit of the inning was a double by Bearden that drove in Garrett from second.


Dawson added another run in the third inning with Austin Papaik crossing the plate.


The Tiger bats went silent after the third inning.


Dawson managed only three hits over the next four innings and allowed Walnut Grove back into the game.


The Warriors picked up a single run in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings to take a 4-3 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning.


The Tigers rallied in the bottom of the seventh inning to tie the game at four and send it into extra innings.


Harper was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. Williams then reached on an error, to put runners on first and second.


The Warrior pitcher then walked the next two batters forcing in Harper from third.


Walnut Grove scored two runs in the top of the eighth inning to move ahead 6-4.


Dawson answered with a run of its own in the bottom half of the inning, but it wasn’t enough. The Warriors hung on to take the 6-5 win.


The Tigers finished the season with a winning record at 13-12 and a fifth place finish in Region 8-AA with an 11-9 record.