Parkview’s Daino Deas (6) is congratulated by his teammate Brandon Hill (1) after scoring against Mill Creek during a high school baseball game in Hoschton Monday. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)
HOSCHTON — With region play rapidly approaching, both Parkview and Mill Creek’s baseball teams were hoping to get a gauge on just how ready they are for the most important part of the regular season schedule when they met Monday.
Based on Parkview’s 8-1 victory at Fathers Field, it’s the Panthers.
A strong outing from Christian Vann, some solid defense throughout the game and two hits and two big RBIs from Daino Deas were enough to help Parkview build momentum as it gets ready for Region 8-AAAAAA play.
“We’re fighting through some inexperience right now that we knew we were going to have at the beginning of the year,” Parkview coach Chan Brown said after the Panthers improved to 4-1 on the young season. “The kids are starting to respond to some situations they were being put in. That’s a great thing to see for them as a team.
“(Coach) Doug (Jones) and Mill Creek are always a solid baseball program and do a solid job. So, any time you come up here, you know you’re going to be in a dogfight, and our kids responded.”
Vann (1-1) was solid throughout the evening, going six-plus innings and allowing just four hits and one unearned run with four strikeouts to pick up the win.
And after two strong innings from Mill Creek starter Russell Klein (1-2), the Panthers were able to string together some hits and take advantage of some fielding issues from the Hawks (3-5) to jump out in front in the top of the third.
After J.P. Chamblee reached on catcher’s interference to lead off and courtesy runner Johnny Jones went to second on a wild pitch, Michael Craig laid down a bunt single to put runners on first and third with nobody out.
And the Panthers quickly cashed in, with Deas lining a two-run triple to the gap in right-center field and Trevor Brown following with an RBI grounder to second to put Parkview in front 3-0.
Mill Creek answered in the bottom of the inning by taking advantage of one of the few Parkview miscues.
Klein led off the inning with a single and courtesy runner Luke Stephenson dashed all the way around to third when a pick-off attempt went awry.
Leo Narrison then sent a liner to left that easily brought home Stephenson on a sacrifice fly to pull the Hawks to within 3-1.
But Vann avoided further trouble in the third, and then pitched out of another trouble spot in the fourth.
A lead-off ground-rule double by Kyle Abernathy was followed by an error on Logan Moseley’s infield grounder to put the tying runs on base with nobody out.
But the senior left-hander got Austin Parham to ground out to the mound before striking out Jacob Freeland and Andrew Wise to get out of the inning with the Parkview lead still at 3-1.
Klein and two Mill Creek relievers were not so lucky when they ran into trouble over the next three innings.
Deas singled, stole second, was sacrificed to third by Brown and came home on a wild pitch to extend the Parkview lead to 4-1 in the fifth.
The Panthers then took advantage of two errors Mill Creek errors in the sixth and another in the seventh to score twice more in both innings to balloon the lead to 8-1.
“It’s a matter of you’ve got to make plays, and we haven’t made plays all year,” Jones said. “You can look at the record and figure out what it is. The pitching was fine, but at some point, you’ve got to decide you’re going to play good defense. If you don’t, nights like (Monday night) are going to happen to you, and you’ll pay the consequences.”
Vann then left the game in the seventh after hitting Brett Whitford and allowing an infield single to Jake Fowler.
One out and a walk later to load the bases, lefty Jordan Kelly came out of the bullpen to retire Stephenson and Cameron Turley to close out the win for Parkview.
In addition to Deas’ big night at the plate, the Panthers also got a clutch night from reserve infielder Schyler Chapman.
The junior not only came on and played stellar defense at third base after starter Jim Wagner took a bad-hop grounder off his nose and was forced to leave the game in the bottom of the first, but also delivered a two-run single at the plate in the seventh.