Parkview swept visiting Luella by scores of 3-1 and 5-2 Tuesday to reach the semifinals of the Class AAAAA baseball playoffs.
Matt Olson, who was held hitless at the plate, recorded the win from the mound in the first game. Edwin Arias had two doubles hit the centerfield wall and got hit by two pitches to reach base all four at-bats.
Arias’ first double brought in a run for Parkview for a 1-0 lead after its first at-bats.
Jack Esmonde’s single brought in the second run in the third to give Parkview a 2-0 lead.
Back-to-back doubles by Ryan Blanton and Rob Youngblood brought in the third and final run for Parkview.
Luella strung a few hits in the top of the sixth to make the game interesting. John Goodman hit a single. Reise McDaniel then hit a double off the right-field wall. With two outs and runners on second and third, Julius Gaines singled to bring in Goodman for Luella’s only run of the game.
Olson closed out the win by making DJ Carlisle ground out as Brooks Davis tagged the base at first to secure the win.
Parkview was led by Arias’ two doubles and RBI as well as the efficient pitching from Olson.
“I was surprised [that Olson went hitless from the plate],” said Parkview’s Coach Chan Brown. “But it’s a positive that we won without him doing much [on offense].”
After an hour break between games Parkview’s Jesse Foster took the mound to start the second game.
Luella’s Julius Gaines hit a lead-off home run in the top of the first inning over the centerfield wall. Luella gained the early 1-0 lead and held it until the fourth.
In the top of the fourth, Olson hit a line-drive single. Jeff Ronprin was walked by Luella’s pitcher Vincent Jackson, and Esmonde delivered a double down the third-base line to score Olson and tie the game at 1-1.
Jackson made up for his earlier mistakes by hitting a lead-off home run in the bottom of the fourth inning for a 2-1 Luella lead.
The Panthers showed in their series against North Gwinnett last week that they were capable of rallying back and did it again Tuesday.
“Our team never quits, they practice hard and have a lot of heart and soul,” said Brown. “These boys bleed blue and orange.”
Esmonde’s clutch double off the centerfield wall brought in Ronprin, tying the game at 2-2.
Foster was replaced on the mound in the sixth with the game tied and replaced by Phillip Taylor, who pitched a scoreless sixth.
Errors by Luella crippled its chances to force a third game.
In the seventh, Youngblood led the rally with a leadoff single. Travis Naraine was then hit by a pitch. After Josh Hart struck out, a throwing error to third base by Jackson scored Youngblood for a 3-2 Parkview lead.
Olson was up with runners on third and second. Although Olson only got one hit in the entire night, his reputation for big-time clutch hitting made Luella and Jackson decide to intentionally walk him to load the bases.
Parkview went up 4-2 when the Luella first baseman dropped the ball attempting to complete a double play. Ronprin was credited with the RBI.
Jackson then hit Blanton with a pitch to load the bases. Jackson was replaced on the mound by Luella’s Goodman. Goodman failed to capture his control during his warm-up and hit Esmonde with a pitch to bring in yet another effortless run.
Parkview led 5-2 as Taylor took the mound for the Panthers to finish the game. Luella’s Gaines grounded out for the third out as Parkview booked its place in the semifinals.
Esmonde had three hits to lead Parkview’s offense.
“It feels great to be back in the final four,” Brown said after the game.
Although the Panthers swept Luella they had a little trouble doing so. Some of their big hitters failed to get on base too often. When Parkview needed bunts, several of the players were unable to do so. Brown kept stressing to his team throughout the game to play as a team.
“I told them to work as a team. We are a very bonding team. I tell them to keep doing the little things, to play team baseball. We weren’t very good at the little things but hopefully we’ll work on that and get better.”
Parkview will face the winner of Alpharetta vs. Colquitt County series next Monday.