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Tigers grab win over East Hall to remain in playoff hunt
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Second baseman Mauricio Hernandez waits for his pitch against the East Hall Vikings on April 10. - Photo by Bob Christian

Severe weather once again influenced the Dawson County varsity baseball team’s schedule as thunderstorms book-ended the team’s return from spring break and forced the Tigers to play three games in two days, to include their third double-header of the season.

The series with East Hall opened with a 13-5 loss April 10 at Tigers Stadium  and continued with a pair of games in front of the Vikings’ home crowd the following day.

Dawson County dropped game one of the doubleheader by a final score of 7-5 but rebounded with a monster eight-run third inning in game two to capture the final game of the series in a much needed 10-2 victory.

With one week remaining in the regular season, Head Coach Dwayne Sapp stressed the significance of the single victory while also acknowledging that it made the road to the playoffs just that much harder as the team prepared to face the Greater Atlanta Christian Spartans in the final series of the year.

“We are in a tie for fourth right now with a chance to make it to third,” Sapp said. “We win all three, we are third. Two victories and we are probably fourth.”

Dawson County found themselves down early in game one as the Vikings took advantage of a pair of walks issued by starting pitcher Hudson Sapp and an error from third baseman Andrew Burt to open a two-run lead in the top of the first inning.

The Tigers pushed runners into scoring position with back-to-back singles in their turn at the plate, but controversial call by the home plate umpire shut down the rally and Dawson County ended the inning with runners stranded at second and third base.

Going 3-for-4 at the plate, Sapp attempted to spark the offense with a solo homerun in the third inning and a two-RBI triple in the fifth inning. 

East Hall rallied to stop the Tigers in both comeback attempts, while they continued to knock the ball around the park, tacking on runs in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings to close out the game with a commanding final score of 13-5.

The threat of more inclement weather on Friday resulted in the decision to move the games forward by a day and the Tigers played games two and three of the series April 11 at East Hall High School in their third doubleheader of 2019.

East Hall took tan early lead on a bases-loaded walk in the first inning and fought off the Tigers for three innings until a T.J.Allen single drove in the game tying run in the top of the fourth.

Starting pitcher Kristian Kelley looked sharp as he picked up strike-outs two and three to hold the tie through four innings, but the magic wore off as the Vikings broke open the game in the fifth, scoring two more runs off Kelley and another four off reliever Cameron Moore, who returned from injury for one inning of duty, and jumped out to a 7-1 lead with two innings remaining.

A single from Bo Lewis drove in a run for the Tigers in the sixth inning, and a three-RBI triple from Sapp in the bottom of the seventh inning gave Dawson County a glimmer of hope, but both rallies flickered out and the Vikings went on to capture the day’s first game by a 7-5 score.

Although Dawson County managed to put a run on the board first to take its first lead of the series, East Hall quickly responded with two runs of its own and once again the Vikings held the lead after the first inning, this time by a score of 2-1.

From that point forward it was all Tigers’ baseball as Moore rebounded from his inning of relief in game one to pitch six flawless innings as he racked up seven strike-outs while allowing one hit and no runs.

Moore also picked up an RBI as the Tigers offense exploded for eight runs in the third inning as the team took advantage of some loose pitching from the Vikings to load the bases twice and bat around the order before being retired.

Dawson County added a run in the fifth inning on an RBI single from Allen, and Burt took the mound to retire the last East Hall batter to secure the win by a 10-2 margin.

The win ended the series on a positive note for the Tigers, but the team's overall record slipped to 8-11 and the regional record moved to 6-8 with one week remaining in the regular season and the Spartans next on the schedule.

“It would help if we could play our best baseball right here at the end,” Sapp said. “From the beginning of the year until now, we have improved greatly and hopefully we can make routine plays and pitch well.”

Game one of the three-game series between the Dawson County Tigers and the GAC Spartans took place April 15 on the campus of the University of North Georgia. Results were unavailable as of press time.