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Parkview named national champions by Baseball America

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Parkview hoists the Class AAAAA state championship trophy, including Jarrett Freeland, left, and Matt Olson, right, following Saturday's win over Brookwood.

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Parkview hoists the Class AAAAA state championship trophy, including Jarrett Freeland, left, and Matt Olson, right, following Saturday's win over Brookwood.

What was expected for the past week became official Tuesday when Parkview's second straight Class AAAAA state championship earned the school its first national championship in one of the nation's most respected set of high school baseball rankings.

The Panthers actually ascended to the No. 1 national ranking in the combined poll by Baseball America magazine and the National High School Baseball Coaches Association last week.

However, their standings as the combined entity's national champion was cemented with the release of its final rankings Tuesday afternoon.

Parkview becomes only the second team from Georgia to be so honored by Baseball America/NHSBCA and the first since Lassiter was named national champion after winning the 1999 Class AAAA title -- then Georgia's highest classification.

"It's obviously a very humbling and very cool experience," Parkview coach Chan Brown said of the Panthers being the fourth team from the Southeast to be named Baseball America/NHSBCA national champions in the last five seasons. "I'm real happy for the kids in our program. From the players and the coach to the parents to the community, we all worked very hard this season. Everybody had a part in this."

Led by MLB First-Year Player Draft pick Matt Olson and fellow All-County honorees Edwin Arias, Jack Esmonde, Jesse Foster and Josh Hart, the Panthers (31-6) swept archrival Brookwood in the championship series late last month.

The title was their second straight, matching the feat of Parkview's 2001-02 teams, which was the last time a team from Class AAAAA won back-to-back state championships.

But the national title is an accomplishment not even those teams from a decade earlier -- which included such names as current and former major leaguers Jeff Francoeur and Clint Sammons and prominent college and minor-league pitcher Tim Gustafson -- could manage.

"It's obviously exciting," said Esmonde, a Georgia signee and second-team selection by the Daily Post this season. "I'm happy we were able to do that because we all worked so hard. It's an honor, and it was one of our goals this season. We wanted to win the region (7-AAAAA) and state championships, and then win a national championship. And it was awesome that we were able to accomplish that goal."

Parkview led a strong contingent in the Baseball America/NHSBCA poll, with Class AAA state champion Columbus -- with whom the Panthers split a pair of regular-season games this spring -- coming in right behind at No. 2 and Class AAAA champion Loganville (No. 23), Class AA champion Appling County (No. 34) and Gainesville (No. 49) also earning a national ranking.

In addition to the Baseball America/NHSBCA national title, the Panthers will also finish very high in several other organizations' national rankings.

They have already finished in the top 10 in two other polls -- No. 7 in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 and No. 9 in Collegiate Baseball newspaper -- that have already released final rankings, and are No. 15 in the final Powerade Fab 50 poll released by ESPN.

Parkview is also currently ranked No. 5 by Perfect Game USA and No. 7 in USA Today's Super 25 poll. The final USA Today poll is expected to be released today, while Perfect Game USA's final rankings are expected out shortly thereafter.

Comments

Susan 1 year, 10 months ago

Congratulations, Panthers! We've always been proud of you!

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mm27 1 year, 10 months ago

Congrats' to Parkview. I am now convinced that the best baseball in the nation is being played right here in our own backyard. It started with an all Gwinnett Final Four. As a Bronco I feel proud that we Lost to the National Champs and split the Year 2-2 with them. My hats off to all the Gwinnett County Coaches for Truly making Gwinnett GREAT... : )

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