By Doug Gorman
The Forest Park Panthers know how important each baseball game is from here on out if they hope to advance to the postseason.
That's a message they made very clear Monday afternoon against Region 4-AAAA opponent Lithia Springs as the Panthers kept their playoff hopes alive with a 5-1 victory against the visitors from Douglas County.
With the win, the Panthers improved their overall record to 14-5 and 6-5 in region play.
"We have been getting very good pitching and fielding all year," said head coach Quinton King. "Now we are starting to hit the ball well to. If we can continue to put both together, I think we are going to be fine. Our seniors really did a good job of stepping it up today."
Senior pitcher Josh Froneberger picked up the win from the mound, giving up five hits. Froneberger struck out eight Lithia Springs batters, but did have to pitch out of a couple of tight spots as the Lions attempted to rally.
With the Panthers leading 2-0, Froneberger pitched out of his first jam in the third inning after the Lions loaded the bases all with two outs.
He ended the Lithia Springs' threat with a strikeout of clean-up hitter Matt Long.
"I hate it when I put base runners on," said Froneberger. "I knew I had to stay focused and work to get them out."
Forest Park started the scoring with single runs in the first and second inning and then added some needed insurance with a three run effort in the fifth to put some distance between themselves and the Lions on the scoreboard.
The Panthers scattered seven hits off of two Lithia Springs pitchers en route to the win.
Cordaryl Kendrick's single in the second and double in the fifth each produced an RBI to help pace the Panthers' offense.
"Hitting is going to be the key for us down the stretch," he said. "We did a good job of hitting the ball today."
Antonio Kendrick also swung a potent bat for the Panthers with a first-inning double and a single in the fifth.
Catcher B.J. McKinney drove in a run in the fifth and scored later in the inning.
"This was a big win," McKinney said. "They beat us the first time we played, but this team has kept believing in itself the entire year. That's one of the things coach King as instilled in us since he got here. There's a lot of team unity."
Lithia Springs tried one more time to rally in the seventh inning, but the game ended with two base runners on board as Froneberger recorded two strikeouts in the last inning to finish with the complete game.
n Jonesboro 13, Houston County 4: The Jonesboro Cardinals made their hits count Monday afternoon in a Region 2-AAAAA contest against Houston County.
The Cardinals scored 13 runs on 14 hits en route to the region win.
Left-handed pitcher Frankie Crawley picked up the victory for the Cardinals, pitching five innings and allowing just one run.
The Cardinals also took advantage of five Houston County errors.
Offensively, Branan Northsworthy swung the hot bat for the Cardinals, ripping a triple and a home run.
Rashard Brown added two singles and a double. Alfred Arnold added a double and a single and Joshua Brown contributed to the cause with two singles.