Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Parkview head coach Chan Brown, left, and Matt Olson (21) celebrate with the Class AAAAA state championship trophy after the Panthers beat Brookwood.
LILBURN --Brookwood had just rallied to tie Game 2 of the Class AAAAA baseball finals Saturday evening and had all the momentum in the top of the seventh inning.
After recording two quick outs, all that stood between the visiting Broncos and a chance to win in the bottom of the seventh was Matt Olson. The Parkview senior didn't give them that chance, blasting a towering home run over the right-field hitting cage for a 4-3 lead that sparked an eventual series-clinching victory.
It propelled the Panthers to their second straight state championship, and also cemented the legacies of the key figures in the historic victory.
That's a word you heard often on Saturday --legacy.
"This team's going to leave a legacy," Parkview head coach Chan Brown said. "Not just the seniors, but all of them. The seniors were a big part of it, but we've got a strong junior class, too."
Clearly, this team left its mark.
It won back-to-back championships in AAAAA, the first team in Georgia's largest classification to do that since Parkview in 2001-02. Those deep teams were led by superstar Jeff Francoeur, now of the Kansas City Royals. He put on almost mythic displays in high school baseball and he led what was Parkview's best two-year run in baseball, one that was matched on Saturday.
"I'd like to think we're leaving the same kind of legacy that Francoeur and those guys left," Olson said. "Winning state titles isn't easy and we've had tough roads the last two years."
Speaking of Francoeur, whose retired No. 12 jersey dons the outfield wall, Olson did a pretty good "Superman" impersonation in the championship.
He went 3-for-4 with a home run in Game 1 and added the homer and two RBIs in Game 2, on top of pitching seven strong innings to earn the victory in Game 1.
It was Francoeurian (if Jeff's name can be used as an adjective). Consider his legend cemented, too.
"The bigger the occasion, the bigger he's going to be," Brown said of Olson. "That (seventh-inning blast) was a home run, that's for sure. The bigger the occasion, you know he's going to show up."
The other person sealing his legacy Saturday was Brown.
He drew the difficult task of replacing Hugh Buchanan --the field's namesake and whose No. 20 jersey also decorates the outfield wall --back in 2005.
Buchanan left a legendary status himself as Parkview's only baseball coach, a guy who won three state championships and countless friends with his endearing personality.
Brown, in his ninth year at Parkview and eighth as a head coach, has done a stellar job filling Buchanan's role. He's got a couple of state titles to prove it, not that he needed them. He already had that respect of the Parkview and Gwinnett baseball communities.
"Following Coach Buch, that was hard in itself," Brown said. "He's such a wonderful baseball person and he built all of this from the ground up. I'm just thankful we could keep that tradition alive."
Buchanan still talks regularly with Brown, though most of their conversations aren't even about baseball, the retired coach said. Buchanan stays busy as a pro baseball scout these days, but he made it back from the SEC Baseball Tournament in time for the AAAAA finals.
He wasn't about to miss another chapter of Parkview's impressive baseball history.
"I'm very happy for (Chan and his staff)," Buchanan said. "They've done a fabulous job. Year after year they keep turning out good baseball teams and the talent keeps coming through. They're working hard every day. Sometimes the younger generation gets a bad rap about work ethic, but they've still got that work ethic.
"It's the same thing with Coach (Rick) Howard and Brookwood. We're very fortunate in Gwinnett with four teams in the semifinals. Obviously, those guys are doing something right."
Will Hammock can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His regular column appears on Thursdays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/willhammock. For Hammock's blog, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/willsworld.