LILBURN — Not much has gone wrong for Parkview lately, so when Jarrett Freeland stepped to the plate with a chance for a walk-off win, the catcher finally got a pitch to drive.
The Panthers’ seventh-place hitter laced a 2-2 pitch up the middle to score pinch-runner Austin Fisher from third base for a 6-5 victory over South Gwinnett in eight innings on Friday. The RBI single gave the Panthers their 10th straight victory and an 8-0 record in Region 8-AAAAA.
Freeland said Comets pitcher Jamie Suggs had pitched him away the entire game, and because he admittedly isn’t a power hitter, Freeland only tried to make contact.
“I knew he’d been hitting his spot all night,” said Freeland, who was 1-for-3 with a walk. “I finally got a pitch I could drive up the middle, and get the run in.”
After it started the season 3-5, Parkview is on a roll.
“Games like this, they’re a heck of a baseball team, but they can be beat,” South coach Steve Teschner said. “You’ve just got to put the complete package together to beat them. We didn’t do that tonight.”
Parkview overcame five fielding errors, but Parkview coach Chan Brown credited South with forcing his team to make plays.
South, which tied the game in the seventh, then took a one-run lead in the eighth, dropped its third straight game.
Suggs led the Comets with a complete game, and hit a two-run home run to left field, over the scoreboard, in the seventh on a 3-1 pitch.
“It felt like it was just a punch in the mouth,” Freeland said. “And we were ready to get right back on it.”
Added Teschner, “We never lay down, we always feel like we have a shot every time we play these guys.”
South then took the lead in the eighth on an RBI double by center fielder Austin Williams, but he was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple.
While Suggs limited Parkview to just four hits, the Panthers reached 10 other times on walks, errors or being hit by a pitch.
After South took a 2-0 lead, and Parkview’s defense wasn’t its best, the Panthers stayed in the game thanks to the pitching of left-hander Phillip Taylor, who relieved starter Jesse Foster. Foster left after one pitch in the third inning because of a blister. Taylor shut out the Comets over 31⁄3 innings, gave up three hits and struck out four.
The win gives Parkview a two-game lead over South and Brookwood, which entered Friday with a 5-2 region record.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun going to the finish,” Teschner said. “Anything can happen.”
Brown said he was proud of his team for being undefeated through the first half of the region schedule.
“But as far as I’m concerned, everybody is 0-0 starting Monday,” he said.