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Foster, Parkview rally to eliminate North

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman<br> Parkview's Rob Youngblood can't beat the tag at second base as North Gwinnett's Ryan Hagan makes the play.

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman
Parkview's Rob Youngblood can't beat the tag at second base as North Gwinnett's Ryan Hagan makes the play.

LILBURN -- Parkview could only watch North Gwinnett celebrate following a come-from-behind win tied their Class AAAAA state second-round playoff series late Wednesday night.

After falling behind by three runs in the first inning of Thursday's decisive Game 3, the Panthers turned to their "Iron Man" to keep that scene from repeating itself.

And Jesse Foster delivered.

Less than 24 hours after throwing 52/3 innings, the junior right-hander helped stem the tide with 51/3 more effective innings Thursday.

That allowed Parkview's 12-hit attack -- paced by three hits each from Jarrett Freeland, Josh Hart and Travis Naraine -- to erase the early hole and vault the Panthers to an 11-4 victory.

"We showed up ready to play," Parkview coach Chan Brown said. "And it was a gutsy performance by (Foster)."

Freeland belted two home runs and drove in three runs. Hart had a double and a homer and two RBIs. Naraine added a double, a triple and four RBIs as the Panthers (23-8) advanced to the state quarterfinals, where they will host Luella on Tuesday.

But it was Foster (5-1) who gave them the opportunity despite throwing 64 pitches the night before.

"(The coaches) asked me all day, 'Are you ready?'" Foster said. "I knew I was good to go for relief. I came in and the adrenaline was high. I just couldn't let the team down. I knew if I could shut it down on the mound, they'd get it done."

Foster was needed after North (17-15) got to Parkview starter Mac Marshall in the top of the first.

Seth Bancroft greeted Marshall's first pitch with a double off the wall and Connor Jenkins followed with his second homer in as many days -- and second of the season -- to give the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead.

Foster came on after Marshall hit Cole Willoughby and walked Alex Kimble, but things didn't appear to get any better after an error allowed another North run to score.

Then Foster struck out Brian Woodruff and got Kenny Knudsen to hit into a 3-6-1 double play to keep the deficit at 3-0.

"I think that's the difference in the game, when you take a look at it," North coach Frank Vashaw said. "Foster threw a lot better (Thursday) than he did (Wednesday). ... And anytime you leave runners on base, especially in this ballpark ... you do feel like you have to take advantage of every opportunity you get.

"We kind of ran out of bullets a little bit."

And if that wasn't enough of a momentum swing, Freeland's first at bat of the game in the top of the second was.

The sophomore catcher, who had just one homer the entire year, jumped on a 1-1 offering from Brandon White (6-3) with one on and two out for a two-run bomb that pulled the Panthers to within 3-2.

"That was definitely a momentum shift there," Freeland said. "I felt like if we could keep that the rest of the game and keep that momentum going, we'd have a good shot."

After Hart tied the game 3-3 with a solo homer to the opposite field in the fourth, Parkview seized momentum for good in the fourth.

With two outs and the bases loaded, Naraine sent a grounder just inside the bag at first and down the right-field line for a triple that cleared the bases and put the Panthers on top.

"I was just looking for a good pitch to hit," Naraine said. "I couldn't let my team down with two outs right there. I just had to come through, and luckily, I did."

Parkview would add two more runs in the inning to claim an 8-3 lead, which was more than enough for Foster, who threw 50 pitches, giving up just four hits and one run with six strikeouts before tiring in the sixth.

Back-to-back doubles by Kimble and Ryan Hagan plated North's final run, but left-hander Phillip Taylor came on and shut the door over the final 12/3 to close out the win.

"I feel bad for our kids," Vashaw said. "They played so hard. ... We didn't back down."


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