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Panthers rally, stave off elimination

Photo: Connie Southwell/The Moultrie Observer <br> Parkview second baseman Travis Naraine tags out Colquitt County's Matt Creech during Game 1 of their Class AAAAA state semifinal series Monday.

Photo: Connie Southwell/The Moultrie Observer
Parkview second baseman Travis Naraine tags out Colquitt County's Matt Creech during Game 1 of their Class AAAAA state semifinal series Monday.

MOULTRIE -- Managing just one run through the first 11 innings of its Class AAAAA state baseball semifinal series against Colquitt County, Parkview was staring defeat and the end of the 2011 season straight in the face.

And then the Panthers did something about it.

Down 4-1 heading to the bottom of the fifth inning in Game 2 after losing Game 1, Parkview found its offensive mojo and ripped through three Colquitt County pitchers for seven runs and held on for an 8-4 win.

That win forces today's Game 3.

"In my opinion, we just didn't play well for about 11 innings," said Parkview head coach Chan Brown. "We finally, for whatever reason, came off the deck. We've been able to do that this season and this team just doesn't have any quit in them, as far as that goes."

The Parkview rally started with the bottom of the order.

After Jarrett Freeland singled and Rob Youngblood walked, Travis Naraine singled in Freeland to cut the Colquitt County lead to 4-2.

After a failed bunt attempt recorded the first out, Edwin Arias singled to load the bases. After a sacrifice fly to center by Matt Olson scored Youngblood to cut the lead to one, Jeff Ronpirin's two-out single to right scored Naraine and the game was tied at 4-4.

Then Parkview (26-9) got two more clutch, two-out hits that not only gave the Panthers the lead, but also provided some big insurance for the final two innings.

First, it was Ryan Blanton's triple to left that plated Arias and Ronpirin to give Parkview a 6-4 advantage. Then Jack Esmonde launched a two-run homer to left-center that chased home Blanton and the Panthers were suddenly out in front 8-4.

That set the stage for Phillip Taylor to shut the door on Colquitt County and force a deciding Game 3 with the winner moving on to Saturday's championship series.

Taylor worked 22/3 innings in relief of starter Jesse Foster and was flawless in the sixth and seventh, allowing only a lead-off double in the sixth before retiring the final six batters he faced.

"This time of the year, it's all about surviving and trying to get to Game 3 after you lose the first one," said Brown. "Our kids fought hard and I thought Phillip Taylor came in and did a nice job. (Colquitt County) got some bleeders off Jesse (Foster) and nothing hit great, so I thought he pitched well too.

"But I'll tell you what, to their credit, (Colquitt County) is a great ballclub and very pesky. They play hard, so it will a great game tomorrow."

Ronpirin and Esmonde each had a pair of hits in Game 2 to lead Parkview as the Panthers had eight players score runs.

In the opener, Parkview could muster only three hits and committed three errors. That was enough for Colquitt County starting pitcher Cole Pitts to go the complete game and pick up the 3-0 win for the Packers.

Pitts also led the Colquitt County offensive attack with a solo homer in the fourth to break a scoreless tie.

Pitts struck out five and walked a pair along with one hit batter. But the senior right-hander stranded eight Panthers en route to the win, including three in the second when Parkview loaded the bases with one out and failed to score.