Photo: David McGregor. Parkview's Josh Hart (16) rounds second base after hitting a two-run, go-ahead home run in the fifth inning of the Panthers' 11-10 victory over the Bulldogs on Wednesday.
LILBURN -- Comebacks were the name of the game in Wednesday's second-round doubleheader between Parkview and North Gwinnett.
After all was said and done, the teams split and face off in a decisive Game 3 today at 6 p.m. for the right to advance to the Class AAAAA quarterfinals.
The Panthers used an eight-run bottom of the fifth inning in Game 1 -- erasing an 8-1 deficit -- to eventually win 11-10.
The Bulldogs scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh in Game 2 to come back and win 5-4.
"It got us to Game 3," North head coach Frank Vashaw said. "All bets are off in a Game 3."
"We just didn't get the job done," said Parkview head coach Chan Brown. "We had our opportunities, but we couldn't push those runs across. We'll have to come out here (tomorrow) and be ready to play."
In the early portion of Game 2, pitching reigned supreme and neither team mounted any offense through the first three innings.
Parkview (22-8) struck first in the top of the fourth on back-to-back solo home runs by Edwin Arias and Matt Olson.
North (17-14) scored its first run in the bottom of the fifth, taking advantage of two Parkview miscues to get on the board. After a Brian Woodruff single, Brandon Winn came on as a pinch runner and immediately took second on a balk. A sacrifice groundout moved him to third before a wild pitch brought him home.
The Panthers took advantage of North mistakes as well to go back up by two runs. Ryan Blanton walked and took second on a grounder by Jack Esmonde that ended as an error and put runners on first and second.
A fielder's choice groundout moved the runners up 90 feet with Travis Naraine knocking an RBI single to center. However, Esmonde also tried to score and was gunned down at the plate by North's Connor Jenkins.
Seth Bancroft doubled to center with one out in the sixth inning for North and later scored on an error to make the score 3-2.
In the top of the seventh, North allowed the bases to get loaded with no outs, intentionally walking Olson to face A.J. Davis. Although Davis struck out, Parkview did score a run on an RBI sac fly by Blanton to go up 4-2.
"Some might question the decision to intentionally walk a guy to load the bases, but the decision turned out to work for us," Vashaw said.
In the bottom half of the inning, Kenny Knudsen singled to left and Noah Ford got an infield single. A walk loaded the bases with one out. From there, Bancroft knocked an RBI infield single and Jenkins drew a bases-loaded walk to tie the game.
North's Cole Willoughby wasn't going to let the come back end there as he laced an RBI single to give the Bulldogs the walk-off win.
"We gave ourselves a chance to win and our kids came through," Vashaw said. "We'd rather not do it this way, but we'll take it."
The first game was much sweeter for Parkview, especially since it started sour.
North jumped on Parkview early. With the score 1-1 in the top of the second, Knudsen blasted a two-run home run that also scored Woodruff. In the third, the Bulldogs added another run on a Ryan Hagan RBI double. The floodgates were blasted open the next inning when Jenkins belted a three-run homer.
Down 8-1 entering the bottom of the fifth, the Panthers scored eight runs to take a 9-8 lead. The big hits of the inning came on a two-run single by Naraine and then a two-run home run by Josh Hart.
"Our guys battled and competed," Brown said. "They never feel like they are out of a game."
The Panthers were able to add two runs in the bottom of the sixth when Jeff Ronpirin blasted a two-run home run that scored Olson, who was walked to begin the inning.
North tried for a comeback in the top of the seventh, scoring twice before Esmonde struck out Adrian Stewart to end the game.
Parkview was led by Hart, who went 3-for-4 with a home run, a double and two RBI, while Olson hit a home run, walked and scored three runs. Blanton was also 2-for-2 with a double and a run scored.
North was led by Knudsen, who was 2-for-2 with a home run, two RBI and two runs scored, while Kimble was 3-for-4 with a double and two runs scored. Willoughby went 3-for-3 with two runs scored.
The Bulldogs won the coin flip after the doubleheader and will be the home team in today's decisive game.