By Jeffery Armstrong
The Forest Park Panthers baseball team, thanks to their 7-4 comeback win over the Washington Bulldogs Monday evening, has clinched the Region 5-AAAA subregion B championship, qualifying for the state playoffs for the first time in many years. But they actually are in line for much more.
"If we win our next three games, we can clinch the overall Region 5-AAAA championship," said Panthers head coach Michael Breedlove. "But the great thing is that we are definitely in the state playoffs for the first time in a long time."
Should Forest Park and Jonesboro end up tied in the region standings, Forest Park would win the region title based on their head-to-head meeting, which Forest Park won 4-3 on April 20. Forest Park (15-5, 12-1) hosts subregion A foe Southwest DeKalb today at 5:30 p.m. and then hosts a doubleheader with county rival and subregion B foe Mt. Zion Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.
The game started out rough for Forest Park against their subregion B foe Washington. The Panthers got down 4-0 after two innings, as the Bulldogs hit Panthers starter Cody Garner pretty hard and Forest Park committed two errors which led to runs. The Panthers helped their pitcher out in the bottom of the second inning, scoring three runs to cut the Bulldogs' lead to 4-3.
Forest Park's Tony Peaks led off with a triple and scored on a single by Tyrone Standford. After Standford scored on an error for a 4-2 lead, Bulldogs pitcher Chris Moon walked center fielder Isaiah Froneberger with the bases loaded to make the score 4-3.
Garner, a junior, settled down on the mound after that, pitching brilliantly. After giving up a two-out single to Washington's Roger Williams in the fourth inning (his third hit of the game), Garner retired the next 10 Bulldogs batters, six by strikeout. Garner pitched a complete-game, giving up the four unearned runs on four hits, striking out 13 and walking only one batter.
Forest Park had three more hits in the fifth inning and scored four runs to put the game away at 7-4. Washington committed two costly errors in that inning to help the Panthers plate runs.
Peaks, who along with Standford went 2-for-4 with two runs scored, said he was determined to hit well this season. He also said he was glad to see his team extend its winning streak, now at six straight games.
"This feels good to keep winning. We're the first Panthers team to do this in a long time here," said Peaks, a senior. "It's good for Forest Park overall."
Lithonia sweeps Morrow: The Lithonia Bulldogs put a serious dent in the state playoff hopes of the Morrow Mustangs' baseball team, sweeping them 11-10 and 14-5 in Region 2-AAAAA action Monday evening at Morrow High.
Morrow has lost six straight games to fall to 7-7 in region play.
Lithonia won the first game when Morrow pitcher Tyrone Johnson hit E.J. Morgan with the bases loaded. Lithonia was the home team in game one.
In game two, Morrow rallied from a 4-0 deficit, tying the game five in the bottom of the sixth inning. But Lithonia responded with nine runs in the top of the seventh to put the game away.