Timely homers, clutch pitching sends Parkview into semis with sweep of Colquitt

Photo: David McGregor Parkview's Ryan Blanton (4), Josh Hart (16) and Trevor Brown (7) celebrate Blanton's first inning homerun during the Panthers 16-11 victory over Colquitt in game one on Tuesday.

Photo: David McGregor Parkview's Ryan Blanton (4), Josh Hart (16) and Trevor Brown (7) celebrate Blanton's first inning homerun during the Panthers 16-11 victory over Colquitt in game one on Tuesday.


Photo: David McGregor Parkview's Danio Deas slides into second ahead of the ball as Coquitt's Blake Bennett awaits the throw at second during the Panthers 16-11 game one victory on Tuesday.


Photo: David McGregor Parkview's Rob Youngblood follows thru after getting a hit in game one the Panthers 16-11 victory over Colquitt County in the Class AAAAAA playoffs.

LILBURN -- Patience was a valuable commodity in Parkview's Class AAAAAA state quarterfinal baseball series against Colquitt County.

And the Panthers had plenty of it in posting wins of 16-11 and 7-3 to sweep the doubleheader, and the best-of-three series Tuesday at Hugh Buchanan Field.

Hunter Thornton, Jarrett Hood and Ryan Blanton each hit two home runs on the day, while clutch pitching from Sam McCoy and Christian Vann helped the two-time defending state champion Panthers (26-7) move into the state semifinals next week against Milton.

"We swung the bats well enough to win," Parkview coach Chan Brown said. "Christian threw the ball well enough in the second game. Mackey (Marshall) didn't have his best stuff (in the opener), but he found a way to give us some innings so we could get to Sam. We survived and advanced."

Both teams' patience was on display, with bases on balls being a big key in the death march that was Game 1, with the Panthers drawing 10 walks and the Packers getting six.

One of those Colquitt walks, plus an error on what could've been an inning-changing double play ball, ignited a three-run top of the first, keyed by Aubrey McCarty's two-run double, that left the Packers leading 3-0.

But Parkview answered with a big bottom half of the inning by using some effective small ball.

With one out, Josh Hart legged out an infield single and stole second before Thornton drew a walk.

Hart and courtesy runner Michael Craig then took off, allowing Hood to steer an RBI single through the vacated hole between third and short to cut the deficit to 3-1.

Micah Finely then drove home another run with a squeeze bunt and reached when the throw went wide for the first of three Colquitt errors in the inning.

After Daino Deas reached on an infield single when Ross Goforth slipped while charging in from third to load the bases, Rob Youngblood unloaded them with a double to the gap in left-center to vault Parkview into a 5-2 lead.

Trevor Brown then added an RBI single and Blanton chipped in a two-run homer, and when the dust had cleared, the Panthers had sent 11 men to the plate, with eight touching home, to take an 8-3 lead.

But that lead was hardly safe, as Colquitt chipped away with a run in the second before striking for five in the fourth, with Jonah Bozeman's three-run homer being the big blow, to take a 9-8 lead.

The two teams traded crooked numbers in the bottom of the fourth and top of the fifth, leaving the score tied at 11-all before Parkview mustered one more big inning in the bottom of the fifth.

Once again, walks were the key, with Blanton, Hart and Thornton earning free passes to load the bases and chase reliever Blake Bennett from the game.

Hood then stepped to the plate and greeted new hurler Zach Saunders' first offering with a liner just high enough to clear the wall in right-center for a grand slam, putting the Panthers ahead to stay at 15-11.

"We're a comeback team," said Hood, whose grand slam was his third of the season and second of the playoffs. "We know with the hitters in our lineup, we can always come back and win. ... Coach (Brown) told me before I stepped in that submarine pitchers (like Saunders) always look away. So, I was looking for something away."

Thornton then drove in his fourth run of the game with an RBI single in the sixth, and McCoy (6-1) recovered from a shaky first few hitters to retire eight of the final nine hitters he faced to close out the Game 1 victory for Parkview.

Walks, errors -- both physical and mental -- and the longball also were prominent in the nightcap.

Thornton's solo homer in the top of the first gave Parkview a quick 1-0 lead.

However, a tardy play on a grounder to first by Mark Hathcock that turned into an infield hit and an error set the stage for McCarty's RBI ground out and Daren Kent's run-scoring single vaulted Colquitt in front 2-1 after an inning.

But Parkview took advantage of two more Colquitt errors to answer in the top of the second.

The first error came on Deas' grounder that followed Finley's lead-off infield single.

The second on Brown's grounder up the middle not only brought Finley home with the tying run, but also extended the inning for Blanton.

And the Georgia State-bound senior delivered a three-run homer over the batting cage in right and onto the softball field to give the Panthers a 5-2 lead.

The Panthers then added insurance on Hart's RBI double in the fourth and Hood's solo homer in the fifth, which gave plenty of support for Vann (7-1), who threw six strong innings, giving up just five hits and two earned runs with two strikeouts before tiring in the seventh.

After giving up Colin Kirkland's lead-off single and hitting Preston Berry to bring the tying run into the on-deck circle, the junior lefty gave way for McCoy's second outing of the day.

And the senior sidewinder delivered, retiring the next three Colquitt hitters in order to preserve his ninth save of the season, and the series clincher.