The Dawson County High School Tigers varsity baseball team won two out of three in a high scoring region series with Union County last week. A combined 72 runs were scored as the Tigers won Game 1 (21-14 after 11 innings) at Union County on Thursday before splitting Friday’s doubleheader at home (a 9-8 loss followed by a 15-5 win).
Dawson County made a thrilling comeback in the first game on March 22, down 11-5 after three innings, the Tigers (7-10, 3-6 Region 7-AAA) outscored the Panthers 6-1 in the final two innings to send the game into extras before exploding for seven runs in the top of the 11th inning to leave Blairsville with a 21-14 victory.
As exciting as that finish may have been, the fact that it took the Tigers 11 innings to finish off the Panthers (7-8, 2-5 Region 7-AAA) on Thursday may have cost Dawson County the win in the first game of the doubleheader on Friday.
Up 6-4 in the seventh inning, Dawson County’s Palmer Sapp was one pitch away from the complete game win when he reached his pitch count of 100 pitches and had to be taken out of the game. Due to the sheer length of the previous day’s 11-inning contest, Sapp was forced to throw 19 pitches in relief on Thursday, cutting into his allotted number of pitches allowed on Friday.
“(Palmer) was one pitch away from finishing and he was at his pitch limit,” Coach Dwayne Sapp said. “It seems that when we make a pitching change, we sort of get in trouble and that’s sort of what happened.”
After Sapp had to make the pitching change, Dawson County preceded to allow five runs in the top of the seventh inning to fall behind 9-6, a deficit they were unable to recover from as they went on to take the 9-8 defeat.
“We’re so short on arms.” Sapp said. “We have so many kids just having arm problems this year that we ran short.”
It also didn’t help that the Tigers still had the second half of the doubleheader yet to play. Short on arms, Sapp turned to Connor Bearden who hadn’t pitched in several weeks.
Bearden came through in the clutch, allowing only one run on three hits with two strikeouts in five innings of work.
“(Bearden) gave me what he could.” Sapp said. “He gutted it out. I don’t know how bad he is. I hadn’t talked to him if his arm is bothering him, but I think he’s hurting.
“He just tried to gut one out, so we could get a win.”
Despite the strong showing on the mound from Bearden, several fielding errors kept Union County in the contest to the point where the Panthers were able to tie the score 5-5 after five innings.
After allowing five runs in the fifth, the Tigers regrouped, settled down and came out strong in the sixth to score 10 runs to finish the game 15-5 via the mercy rule.
Dawson County managed to connect for 50 hits off of Union County pitchers in the three-game series (26, 9 and 15 in each game respectively) with Palmer Sapp having a team-high eight hits and 11 RBIs over the three-game stretch.