The Dawson County High School varsity baseball team held off a late charge from Cherokee Bluff High School March 16 to win the rubber match of their three-game series by a final score of 8-6.
The win gave the Tigers the series victory by a 2-1 margin and moved the team to the middle of the pack in region 7-AAA with a regional record of 3-3 and an overall record of 5-4.
“We are at the point I thought we would be after two series of region play,” Head Coach Dwayne Sapp said. “Hopefully, we will continue to swing the bats well and keep getting better each time out.”
In his fourth start of the year, pitcher Cameron Moore opened the game by retiring the first two batters, one looking, one swinging, until a single by Cherokee Bluff put him off his mark and the Bears chalked up two runs to take the early lead.
The Tigers responded immediately with a blistering, line-drive home run from catcher Bo Lewis for two runs and emerged from the first inning locked in a 2-2 tie. They went on to extend their lead as they bat around the order in the bottom of the second to add four more runs.
After his rocky first inning, Moore returned to the mound and held the Bears scoreless until late in the sixth inning when a pair of walks led to trouble for the Tigers and Payton Goodwin was called in to close the inning.
Goodwin escaped the sixth with only one run crossing the plate but found himself deep in trouble in the top of the seventh inning when a pair of errors from the defense allowed Cherokee Bluff to score a quick three runs and narrow the lead to a mere 2 points.
Kristian Kelley was called to the mound for the save opportunity with one out and two runners in scoring position and answered the call with two outs on two pitches as he forced the Bears into a pair of routine pop outs to end the game at the final score of 8-6.
Lewis led the offense with three RBIs on two hits, followed by senior Hudson Sapp who scored two runs along with picking up two RBIs. Moore picked up the pitching win to bring his record to an even 2-2 on the year.
Kelley’s late game appearance marked his second time on the mound, as he had logged a six-inning performance March 13 in the Tigers 6-1 road loss to Cherokee Bluff, and Coach Sapp mentioned the unusual pitching roster in post-game comments.
“We really don’t have a set rotation. We will use whatever is available to try and win the game,” Sapp said. “After that we will worry about the next game.”
Dawson County took to the field for game two looking strong as Kelley and the defense held the Bears scoreless over three innings.
Disaster struck in the bottom of the fourth when Cherokee Bluff capitalized on a series of errors and a pair of walks to jump out to a 6-0 lead. The Bears went on to win the game by a final score of 6-1 as they held the usually potent Dawson County offense to a meager three hits on the day.
The series opened at DCHS March 11 with what started as an offensive display by the Tigers and turned into a dramatic, walk-off 10-9 Dawson County victory.
Dawson County scored six unanswered runs over four innings before Cherokee Bluff found the scoreboard with a pair of runs in the top of the fifth inning.
The Tigers posted another three runs to extend their lead to a commanding 9-2 but watched as the Bears exploded over the last two innings to bring seven runs across the plate and tie the game at 9 with one at-bat remaining.
Nick Mullinax reached base after being hit by a pitch to open the inning, and after being moved to second with a sacrifice bunt was pushed around the bases by a pair of walks and strolled across home plate to give the Tigers the victory.