Parkview ousts Collins Hill with pair of 5-1 wins

LILBURN -- Parkview began its state title defense Friday with a pair of 5-1 wins over Collins Hill in the first round of the Class AAAAA state playoffs.

The Panthers scored two runs in the first inning of the first game, and three runs in the first of the second game, getting themselves out to early leads in both games.

"Our kids showed up early and that's what you have to have in the playoffs," said Parkview head coach Chan Brown.

On the mound, Panthers' pitchers had just as much success as Matt Olson pitched a complete game in Game 1 with seven strikeouts, while Jesse Foster went six innings, striking out five to win the second game.

After Olson struck out the side to open the first game, Parkview (23-5) got to work.

Edwin Arias walked and Josh Hart followed with a single. A walk to Olson loaded the bases and Jeff Ronpirin came through with a two-run single to give the Panthers an early lead.

"I'm fine with them walking me," Olson said. "I have all the confidence in the world in my teammates to come through for us."

Ronpirin found himself again involved in the scoring mix in the third inning as a failed pickoff to second went into center field, allowing Ronpirin to come home from third to give the Panthers a 3-0 lead.

Olson then added two more runs in the fourth inning with a double that scored Rob Youngblood and Josh Hart.

Collins Hill put its lone run on the board in the sixth inning when Matt Osterbur's RBI sacrifice fly scored Wayne Wages.

But, that's all the Eagles (13-12-1) would get in the first game as Olson shut the door on them in the seventh.

The second game saw the Panthers jump on top early again, Olson hit a two-run double in the first to score Arias and Hart. Olson later scored on an RBI double by Jack Esmonde.

Hunter Thornton hit an opposite-field home run in the second inning to put Parkview up 4-0.

Esmonde singled home Jarrett Freeland, who ran over Collins Hill catcher Charlie Padilla as he was blocking the plate without the ball.

But, the Eagles made a little noise in their half of the third.

Wages singled and stole second. Jimmy Shea singled and stole second, putting runners on second and third with one out. An RBI sac fly by John Topoleski put the Eagles on the board and it seemed as though they had the momentum when Nate Williams singled to left field.

However, what the Eagles didn't count on was Esmonde throwing a strike to home plate, nailing Shea to end the inning, with the score at 5-1.

"People don't think of the moments that change the momentum of a game," Olson said. "That put an end to the inning and stop their momentum."

Both teams were stagnant at the plate through the rest of the game, but that was OK for the Panthers since they had the lead.

Esmonde came in during the seventh inning with a runner on first, striking out two of the three batters he saw to earn the save.

In addition to its No. 1 ranking in Class AAAAA, Parkview is also ranked No. 9 in the nation, one spot behind Class AAA's Columbus, which they beat on April 28.

The Panthers will next play the winner of Newnan and Tift County in the second round, which is scheduled to begin Wednesday.

"Focus is a key in the playoffs," Brown said. "We'll go back to work and get ready for the next one."