Staff Photo: John Bohn Parkview's Micha Finley (24) slides safely into second base on a double during the seventh inning of game one against Etowah. Etowah second baseman Jake Ferentinos disagrees with the call during a first round Class AAAAAA state playoff doubleheader on Friday.
LILBURN -- With its back up against the wall, Parkview showed a resilience that head coach Chan Brown's group has shown so many times.
After dropping its opening Class AAAAAA playoff game 11-6, the Panthers were three outs away from elimination in Game 2, but rallied to put seven runs on the board in the top of the seventh for a 12-7 win on Friday night.
The win in the nightcap earned the Panthers (21-7) a split, forcing a deciding Game 3 today at 3 p.m. at Parkview.
"I give credit to Etowah, they brought in two very good pitchers and did what they had to do," Brown said. "We weren't up to par but in the end, we found a way, which is something this group has been doing for four years."
Etowah jumped on Parkview in the first game, scoring two runs in the first inning and breaking it open with five runs in the fourth, with the big blow coming from a three-run homer by William Campbell.
Campbell had a big first game, going 4-for-4 with four RBIs and two runs, while H.D. Dillard set the table from the leadoff spot with a 4-for-5 game, scoring twice and driving in one.
Trailing 7-0 after the fourth, Parkview battled, scoring two runs in the bottom of the fifth off an RBI single from Josh Hart (2-for-4, RBI) and a sacrifice fly RBI from Hunter Thornton.
The Panthers made a game of it an inning later, cutting the score to 7-4 off a two-run homer from Rob Youngblood, but the Eagles put the game out of reach with four runs in the top of the seventh.
Starter Bryan White went the distance for Etowah, giving up six runs on 10 hits with four strikeouts on 119 pitches. Christian Vann took the loss, lasting 4 innings with seven runs on nine hits with three strikeouts.
Parkview turned to Jordan Kelly on the mound in the second game and staked an early lead with three runs in the second.
All of those runs were unearned as an error by the Etowah first baseman set the stage for Hart's two-run single, helping push the Panthers up 3-0.
Etowah countered with one run in the bottom half and erupted for six more in the fourth, chasing Kelly from the game.
Needing a boost on the mound, Brown handed the ball to Sam McCoy, and the side-arming righty effectively shut down the Eagles, giving up just four hits and no runs the rest of the night.
McCoy's relief work allowed the offense to chip its way back, getting two runs in the fourth off a two-run single from Hunter Thornton.
Etowah starter Tanner Shelton, who finished with 141 pitches in 6 innings with 10 hits and eight strikeouts, kept Parkview at bay in the fifth and sixth but finally wore down in the seventh.
Trailing 7-5, Parkview put runners and second and third with one out and got within one run off McCoy's hit to right.
That brought Trevor Brown to the plate, who laid down a perfect squeeze play to drive in Youngblood to get within one at 7-6.
On the play, Brown was safe at first, and pinch runner Mac Marshall caught Etowah napping and came around to put Parkview up 8-7 after the throw to first.
But the Panthers weren't done. Later in the inning with the bases loaded and two out, Jarrett Hood put the game out of reach with a grand slam to left center, giving the Panthers a 12-7 lead.
"The way we finished the night, it gives us a little momentum going into tomorrow," Brown said. "I also feel good about us being the home team."
Parkview won the right to be the home team by winning the coin toss minutes after the end of the second game.