HIGHLANDS RANCH — The Dawson School baseball team took the long bus ride south to face Denver Christian on Thursday with the intention of getting its first 2A District 4 conference win.

Once the Mustangs did that, sweeping the second non-conference game of Thursday’s doubleheader was just icing on the cake. Dawson won Game 1 of the doubleheader 11-4 and took the second game 10-2 to jump up over the .500 mark for the season.

With Thursday’s effort, the Mustangs’ long bus ride home was a good one.

“It was good to get the ball rolling on the league season,” Dawson junior Tanner Fulkerson said. “Our team is coming together and we’ve finally gotten all our players back from trips and things like that. We came out here expecting a tough team and we came together to get two wins.”

Last season, Denver Christian (1-3, 0-1 District 4) trounced Dawson (5-3, 1-1 District 4) in Dawson’s regular season finale in a 12-2 mercy-rule game.

Dawson returned the favor on Thursday night with a pair of lopsided victories, the first of which was led by a dominant pitching performance from starter Chris Slade. The junior struck out 13 Denver Christian batters in a complete-game victory.

“We came in knowing they were a good team so I just wanted to put the ball in play and let my fielders do the work,” Slade said. “It worked out for us today. We had a little bit of a rough start but now our team is looking really solid.”

In Game 2, Dawson jumped out to a 7-1 lead through the first three innings and held on to win the daylight-shortened contest.

Based on last year’s defeat at the hands of Denver Christian, which was indicative of Dawson’s struggles as a 7-12 team with 12 underclassmen, Dawson head coach Joe McKenzie said the Mustangs have improved at the rate he had hoped.

“We’ve improved every game and we improved a lot today,” McKenzie said. “Last year was tough with a large group of sophomores but we’re starting to play pretty well as a team this year. We’re starting to heat it up in all three categories — pitching, hitting and defense — so I’m really pleased with what we’ve got going on.

“Last year we kind of played with them for a while and they 10-runned us. The youth got us a little bit but this year we’re going a good job and all around we’re a much-improved baseball club.”

Michael Nannen went 3 for 3 in Game 1, Max McClellan drove in three runs in Game 2, and Liam Angus allowed just one earned run in five innings in Game 2.

Dawson will play undefeated Dayspring Christian (7-0, 2-0 District 4) in Greeley on Saturday. First pitch will be at 10 a.m.

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Dawson School 11, Denver Christian 4

At Highlands Ranch Christian HS (Game 1)

Dawson School 032 005 1 — 11 12 0

Denver Christian 103 000 0 — 4 8 1

W — Chris Slade. L — Peter Lanting.

Dawson School hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Chris Slade 4-2-2-3, Seth Clemente 3-0-0-0, Tanner Fulkerson 4-1-2-1, Max McClellan 3-1-1-1, Jake Blank 2-2-0-0, Michael Nannen 3-2-3-1, Cade McClellan 3-0-1-0, Hayden Dodge 0-0-0-0, Zachary Somerville 3-1-2-1, Liam Angus 4-1-1-2, Chase Fulkerson 0-0-0-0, Skyler D’Apuzzo 0-1-0-0. Totals 29-11-12-9. 2B — Somerville, Nannen, Slade. SB — Clemente, Fulkerson, D’Apuzzo.

Denver Christian hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Pieter Gesink 3-2-1-0, Jameson Newcombe 3-0-0-0, Clay Herrema 1-0-0-0, Simon Becker 4-1-2-0, Isaiah Ross 3-0-2-2, Russel Dyk 3-0-0-0, Peter Lanting 3-0-1-2, Drake Rice 3-0-0-0, Jacob Kortenhoeven 2-0-0-0, Karsen Krier 1-0-1-0, Colton Natelborg 1-1-1-0. Totals 27-4-8-4. 2B — Ross, Lanting, Natelborg. SB — Becker, Ross.

Dawson School pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Chris Slade 7-8-4-4-2-13.

Denver Christian pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Peter Lanting 5.1-7-9-7-4-1, Isaiah Ross 1.2-5-2-2-1-2.

Dawson School 10, Denver Christian 2

At Highlands Ranch Christian HS (Game 2)

Dawson School 304 03 — 10 11 2

Denver Christian 100 01 — 2 3 1

W — Liam Angus. L — Jameson Newcombe.

Dawson School hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Zachary Somerville 1-1-1-1, Liam Angus 3-1-1-1, Max McClellan 3-1-2-3, Michael Nannen 2-0-0-0, Seth Clemente 1-1-1-0, Chris Slade 3-2-1-2, Jake Blank 3-2-2-1, Edgar Chevarria 0-1-0-0, Tanner Fulkerson 3-1-1-0, Chase Fulkerson 1-0-0-0, Cade McClellan 4-0-2-0, Hayden Dodge 2-0-0-0. Totals 26-10-11-8. 2B — Angus, M. McClellan, Slade, T. Fulkerson. SB — Clemente 2, Blank 2, Nannen, Slade, Chevarria.

Denver Christian hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Pieter Gesink 2-2-0-0, Jameson Newcombe 1-0-0-0, Simon Becker 2-0-1-1, Isaiah Ross 2-0-0-0, Peter Lanting 3-0-1-1, Isaiah Ross 2-0-0-0, Drake Rice 2-0-0-0, Peter Lanting 3-0-1-1, Colton Natelborg 1-0-0-0, Karsen Krier 2-0-0-0, Clay Herrema 0-0-0-0, Forest Jackson 2-0-1-0. Totals 17-2-3-2. 2B — Jackson. SB — Gesink 3, Becker.

Dawson School pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Liam Angus 5-3-2-1-5-4.

Denver Christian pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Jameson Newcombe 2-4-3-3-3-0, Clay Herrema 2-7-7-6-5-3.