Parkview State Champs Again!

Panthers sweep Brookwood 5-2 and 6-3 to defend their Georgia High School Association Class AAAAA baseball championship. (See video of last out)

Updated story, 12 a.m.

It shouldn't be any surprise who played a leading role in 's encore performance in the state baseball finals.

Take a bow, Matt Olson.

Parkview's star senior was at his best again Saturday, pitching and slugging the Panthers (31-6) to a 5-2, 6-3 sweep of visiting Brookwood and their second-straight Class AAAAA championship — and fifth overall.

Olson, who had plenty of help from his teammates, pitched a complete game and added a two-run home run in the opener, then stroked game-changing two-out home run in the Panthers' final at-bat in Game 2. He was 4-for-7 with three RBIs in the series.

"The bigger the situation, the bigger Matt's gonna come through," Parkview Coach Chan Brown said, "and it's been that way since he's been a ninth-grader."

Olson had the right stuff on his Game 2 homer, which started a three-run Parkview rally and turned a 3-3 tie into an insurmountable Parkview lead. After Brookwood scored twice in the bottom of the sixth, and after Brookwood starter Allen Tokarz drew two groundouts to start the inning, Olson sent the first pitch he saw with no-doubt-about-it authority over the right-field fence. He thinks it was a fastball.

"I thought [Tokarz] was going to come at me and try to get a quick inning and get back to the dugout," said Olson, who has committed to play at Vanderbilt. "So I went to the plate aggressive and it worked out. ... That was really the first pitch I saw him throw up in the zone. He made that mistake and I was able to jump on it."

Parkview reliever Jack Esmonde got through the bottom of the seventh, the final out coming on a hard-hit line drive with two men on by Brookwood's Lucas Sims that was caught in spectacular fashion by Ryan Blanton.

Olson's performance aside, Saturday's sweep also showcased the depth the Panthers have used to repeat as champions.

Blanton went 4-for-7, Jarrett Freeland went 3-for-7, Edwin Arias went 3-for-5, and AJ Davis went 2-for-3 in Game 2 with a two-run home run and three RBIs.

Second-game starter Jesse Foster pitched well, allowing five hits and only one run, a booming solo home run by Sims in the second that tied the score at 1-1.

"I knew we could do it [win two in a row]," Brown said. "I knew we had the talent. I knew we had the chemistry. I knew we had the heart. ...

"I can't say enough about our kids. They perservered through a lot of adversity this year. But when it's on the line, they put their heart and soul into it and they're going to find a way to win." 

Hunter Thornton scored Parkview's first run in the second game, scoring on a wild pitch in the top of the second.

After Sims' homer, Davis made it 3-1 in the fourth on his two-run homer to left field, scoring Blanton. That held until Brookwood hit back-to-back-to-back doubles to score twice off Esmonde to open the sixth. But Esmonde got out of the inning, and then withstood two singles in the seventh before Sims' liner was caught on the run by Blanton.

"I pitched terrible, but my teammates were there to help me out and we were able to go out on top," Esmonde said. "And that's all that matters."

In the opener, Parkview scored two runs in each the second and third innings — two of them coming on Brookwood errors and two more on Olson's two-run homer in the third — and then added a single run in the fifth on another error for a 5-0 lead.

Brookwood scored twice with two outs in the top of the sixth, with Jordan Dykes scoring on an error and Michael Gouge coming home on a wild pitch. But Olson struck out the final batter and went three-up, three-down in the top of the seventh to get the pitching victory.

Saturday's victories also gave Parkview's senior class — Olson, Esmonde, Foster, Davis, Arias, Jeff Ronprin and Austin Fisher — 100 wins during their careers.

"It's ridiculous," Davis said of repeating. "I'm dumbfounded right now. I mean I can't believe we did it twice. I mean, it's just ridiculous."

"It's amazing," Arias said. "We've been thinking about this since we were ninth-graders. To have this opportunity again was just amazing."


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