Staff Photo: John Bohn Grayson base runner Oscar Valdes (14) is about to be tagged out while attempting to steal second base by Parkview's Jeff Ronpirin (2) during the second inning of Friday's game played at Grayson.
LOGANVILLE -- "Free" is something everyone loves to hear. In Friday night's Region 8-AAAAA baseball game between Parkview and Grayson, fans were treated to free baseball when Grayson scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game at 4-4.
For three more innings, the teams battled and the fans jeered at the umpires, but in the end, Parkview (8-2, 3-0) took advantage of Grayson miscues to win 6-4 and take sole possession of the lead in the region.
"We knew this would be a tough game," said Parkview head coach Chan Brown. "They're a great team."
With the Panthers up 4-2 in the bottom of the seventh, the Rams got to work to tie the game. Carter Collins singled and took second on Jeril Dawson's bunt. After a flyout, Brandon Benson doubled down the right-field line to score Collins. After Chris Erwin was intentionally walked, Parkview reliever Jack Esmonde struck out the next batter, but ended up walking Taylor Allum to bring in the tying run.
For the next two innings, neither team amounted much of anything at the plate, as fans continued to jeer at umpire's calls.
Then, in the top of the 10th, the Panthers took advantage of some Grayson errors to push across two runs.
Matt Olson walked and took second on a Hunter Thornton single. Michael Craig and Micah Finley came in as pinch runners for the pair as Jesse Foster stepped up to the plate and laid down a sacrifice bunt, only Foster was safe at first because the ball was dropped on the throw. As the ball dropped, Craig motored around to home to score, making the score 5-4. Finley scored two pitches later on a wild pitch, to give Parkview its final run.
In the bottom half of the inning, Oscar Valdes was able to get on base for Grayson, but Esmonde struck out Ryan Barry to secure the win for the Panthers.
The Rams (8-3, 2-1) got on the board in the first inning when Austin Meadows scored on a single by Chris Erwin, who was also the starting pitcher for the game.
Erwin was dominant for five innings, but ran into trouble in the sixth and seventh innings.
"That kid threw one heck of a game," Brown said. "We didn't hit very well against him."
In the sixth, he gave up a double down the left-field line to Jeff Ronpirin, who later scored Parkview's first run on an RBI fielder's choice by Josh Hart.
Grayson answered that run in the bottom of the sixth, taking advantage of an error by the Panthers, as Jack Banda scored on an RBI sacrifice fly by Valdes.
Parkview was done, however, as it took advantage of three Grayson errors to push across three runs.
Although all three of the runs were unearned for Erwin, he was responsible for two of the errors to put the Panthers in position to win the game.
Finley scored on an error when Erwin threw the ball bunted back to him over the first baseman's head and into the dugout, while Esmond scored when the shortstop booted Ronpirin's grounder. Ryan Blanton also motored around to home from second base, as he slid under the catcher's tag to give Parkview a 4-2 lead.
Matt Olson started for Parkview, but didn't factor in the decision, as he went six innings and struck out four.
"There's always going to be tests and trials in a season," Brown said. "Our guys responded and rose to the challenge. That's something you always like to see as a coach."