Newnan wins 8th straight behind Dawson's 15Ks
by Chris Goltermann
His head baseball coach may have lost count, but Newnan senior pitcher Brandon Dawson knew the exact number of Tri-Cities batters he had sent back to the dugout in Friday’s 7-1 victory at Joe Pope Field.
More often than not, Dawson’s 15 strikeouts came at key moments during a one-hit, shutout effort over six innings en route to the Cougars’ fifth-straight win to open the Region 3-AAAAAA schedule.
“We had some timely hits,” said Newnan head coach Kenny Morris. “I thought Brandon threw real well for us.”
Unable to complete the three-game series this week due to rain on Thursday, a final game will be played between the two teams on Monday at Tri-Cities.
“It’ll mean a pretty busy week for us,” said Morris, whose team will then open a three-game series with Westlake on Tuesday. “Westlake’s got a pretty good team.”
On Friday at home, the Cougars put together timely hitting and solid defense to go with Dawson’s effort on the mound against Tri-Cities while improving to 5-0 in region play and 12-3 overall following the team’s eighth-straight victory.
Newnan hasn’t fallen since a trip to play 13-4 Carrollton on March 7.
Starting with Rodney Tennie’s two-out RBI double, the Cougars put together lone runs in the second, third and fourth innings for a 3-0 lead as Dawson was able to right his own wrongdoings.
The biggest came in the fifth after the Newnan starting pitcher brought the tying run to the plate with runners on second and third and no outs. He ended the threat, however, with three consecutive strikeouts while getting Demarco Boykin to look at his final pitch.
In all, the Bulldogs (5-8, 0-5) put eight runners on against Dawson with the aid of a single, three walks and four hit batsmen. But none reached the plate against the Cougar senior, who threw 55 of his 84 pitches for strikes.
“I just had to keep my composure,” said Dawson, who plunked his leadoff batter in the first and the second Bulldog he faced in the top of the second. “I just had to keep moving to the next pitch.”
The Newnan right-hander struck out the side in the second, fourth, fifth and sixth innings, stranding five runners in the process.
With all the movement on the basepaths, it was easy to loose track of Dawson’s impressive strikeout total.
“Fifteen?,” said a somewhat stunned Morris when told of Dawson’s strikeout total. “Wow. I know they had their share of baserunners. But Brandon did a good job of staying with it.”
(To view photos from this game, visit http://photos.times-herald.com/mycapture and click on Sports for the Photo Gallery.)
The Cougars, meanwhile, put the game away by scoring four times in the fifth on two hits, two walks and three Tri-Cities errors.
Newnan hounded Bulldog starter Darvell Booker with additional swings to extend at bats. His pitch count hit 41 after two innings and 86 by the fourth in a total that ballooned to a whopping 147 in a complete-game outing.
To his credit, the Bulldog righty allowed five hits and struck out three, but allowed six walks — including three that directly led to Cougar runs.
Booker also had Tri-Cities’ lone hit, a single in the first that scurried under the glove of right-fielder Devin Henry that allowed the Bulldog to reach third. In his haste, however, the runner missed first base and was called out on an appeal to end the first inning.
Henry made up for it by reaching base three times, the first on an error in the third before eventually scoring for a 2-0 lead.
The Cougar senior then laced an RBI single to left with two outs in the fourth to score Charles Reeves, who walked and advanced on consecutive wild pitches by Booker.
Newnan got Tri-Cities to unravel in the fifth for four runs on a rally that started with Jonathan Swenson’s bloop single. Sam Buchanan reached on a throwing error before Dawson helped himself with an RBI hit to right.
A pair of Tri-Cities drops in the field sandwiched between a four-pitch walk helped give Newnan three more runs to make it 7-0.
The Bulldogs managed their lone run in the seventh without a hit off two relievers. Blake Payne added a strikeout and Newnan catcher Conner Dunn gunned down his second runner of the game before Zach Crawford got cleanup hitter Devonte Singletary to flyout to Reeves in left with the bases loaded.