The Class AAAAAA baseball state championship restores excitement into the North Fulton community. Both Milton and Roswell are looking to lift long championship droughts. Milton has not made the state finals since they were 2004 champions, and the last time Roswell reached the championship was during its title season in 1986. Winning a championship is on the mind of every team before the season, and for these Region 5 rivals it has been seasons of trying to return to the stage. From winter workouts to the season’s games, the players have given their all and have prepared for this moment.
For Milton, its win against Parkview has given them the momentum to finish the season strong. Joey Ray, Milton’s head coach, explained the road to the finals as being “very difficult and long.”
“We have had a lot of good things go our way,” said Ray. “It’s exciting for our players, coaches, and the community.”
Even though this is the biggest game of the season, Ray says the team is preparing like it has the entire season.
“It’s about consistency and winning two out of three games,” explained Ray. “We have to stay in there, hit and pitch well, and play good defense.”
This Milton team went to North Carolina for the National High School Invitational during the regular season to compete with the best teams in the country; Ray believed that having a battle-tested team would benefit the way his team handled the pressure of the playoffs.
“Inside the fence, it’s about playing good defense, throwing strikes, and playing good baseball for each other and having fun,” said Ray. “That’s what it’s all about.”
Milton pitchers, Alex Schnell and Dylan Cease, had success in the semifinals against Parkview, and will be the likely starters in the state finals. Schnell pitched a complete game shut out in Game 1, and Cease struck out 11 batters in 5.2 innings. The pitching will have to face the Roswell Hornets offense, which has been difficult to slow down this postseason. The Hornets used sacrifice bunts and excellent base running to exploit Walton in the semis, and the Milton bullpen will have to minimize their damage.
Roswell’s, Drew Davis, Syd Hopkins, and Lawson Dunkin have thrived throughout the playoffs giving the Hornets the run-support and plays to make it into the finals. The accomplishment of making the state championship shows how the underdog can rise to the occasion in order to beat the higher seats in the region. If Roswell plans to win the state championship against Milton, they have to play like they have been doing throughout the playoffs, scoring runs and pitching strikes.
As coach Mike Powers said, “The players and the community are excited about the game and the rich baseball tradition.”
Game 1 of the 6A championship will be played on May 25.
By Stephen Black and Craig Sager II
Milton 10, Parkview 0: Pitcher Alex Schnell tossed a complete-game shutout for the Eagles, who made the finals for the first time since 2004. Parkview, the 2-time defending state champion, was held to one hit in a game that was halted in the sixth inning. Dylan Cease’s 2-run homer gave the Eagles the final scoring margin and allowed the mercy rule to take effect. Milton jumped all over Parkview in the first inning with a 7-run outburst. Milton advances to play rival Roswell in the state finals series.
Roswell 7, Walton 6: Syd Hopkins doubled to drive in two runs in the third inning to put visiting Roswell ahead 2-0. Lawson Dunkin had an RBI double in the fourth making it 3-0 Hornets. Walton cut it to 3-2 in the bottom of the inning, but Hopkins hit his second two-bagger of the game and sparked a four-run fifth inning that resulted in a 7-2 Roswell lead. With a two-out rally and a Chase Burks two-run homer, Walton cut the lead to 7-6 heading into the seventh inning. Roswell’s last state title came in 1986.
As of Tuesday, May 21, 2013
© Copyright 2013 Gwinnett Daily Post
LILBURN -- For the third straight time in the best-of-three Class AAAAAA state semifinal baseball series between Parkview and Milton, the first inning proved decisive.
by Carlton French, Milton Senior and Baseball Student Asst.
Playing with some short-term memory as the game 1 loss to Parkview was quickly forgotten, the Eagles stormed past Parkview 10-1 in game 2 of the best of three final four series. Milton quickly took it to Parkview scoring 7 runs in the first inning and 2 runs in the second inning to take a 9-0 lead into the third inning that Parkview would never come close to. Parkview starter Christian Vann got rocked by the Eagle offense as he allowed 6 earned runs while recording only one out. Jack Thompson sparked the Eagles in the first inning with a 3 run blast to center field after Ryan Gridley scored from 3rd base on a wild pitch by Vann. Five batters later, Steven Reale kept the pedal down for the Eagles as he drove in 2 more runs with a deep fly ball to the center field wall scoring two more runs. The final run of the inning was scored as Dylan Cease drew a walk for the second time in the inning plating Nick Bradshaw. All in all the Eagles had four hits and drew five walks in the first inning to get off to a 7-0 start. Two more runs were pushed across in the 2nd inning as Dalton Ewing drew a leadoff walk, Dalon Farkas hit an RBI double to left field, Nick Bradshaw singled up the middle, and Steven Reale hit a fielder’s choice to second base scoring Farkas to push the Eagle lead to 9-0. Dylan Cease was dominant in pushing his season record to 8 wins and no losses as he threw 5.2 innings allowing only 3 hits and striking out 11 Parkview batters. Cease topped out on the radar gun at 96 mph and routinely pounded the ball past the Parkview batters. The lone Parkview run was scored in the 6th inning as Jarrett Hood led off the inning with a single to left field, then courtesy runner Michael Craig advanced to 2nd base on an errant throw to first by catcher Nick Bradshaw. Cease then struck out the next two batters and was taken out after throwing 92 pitches for Will Jackson. Jackson then gave up a single to left field by Rob Youngblood scoring the Panthers lone run of the game. The final run of the game was scored on a Nick Bradshaw sac fly to right field which scored Jack Thompson from third. Milton finished the game with 10 runs on 9 hits while Parkview had only 1 run on 5 hits. The decisive game 3 will be played at 6 pm on May 21st at Parkview as Milton looks to advance to the State Championship series.
by Carlton French, Milton Senior and Baseball Student Asst.
Coming in as winners of 14 of the last 16 games the Eagles could not find the offense in game 1 of this best of three final four series and fell 4-0 at Parkview’s Hugh Buchanan Field. Parkview came in as winners of 16 of their last 17 games as well as the two time defending state baseball champions. The Panthers were paced by pitcher Mac Marshall as he baffled the Eagle bats to the tune of 9 strikeouts and only 2 hits over 5 innings of work. The Eagles best chance came in the first inning as Marshall was unable to locate his fastball, throwing 10 of his first 11 pitches for balls, and loading the bases after three straight walks to the top of the Eagle order. However the heart of the Eagle order could not push any runs across as Jack Thompson struck out looking, Dalton Ewing popped out to 2nd, and Alec Cease popped out to SS to end the Eagle threat. Payton Smith's strong performance on the mound was squandered by the Eagle bats. Smith allowed the Eagle bullpen to rest as he pitched a complete game four hitter however the Panther offense was able to muster four runs on the four hits. Sam McCoy got things going for Parkview in the bottom of the 3rd with a single to right field for the first Panther hit of the game. Two batters later, the leadoff hitter Ryan Blanton hit what appeared to be a can of corn to right field, however the ball was just deep enough to carry over the right field fence to give Parkview a 2-0 lead they would never relinquish. Two innings later Sam McCoy hit a homerun just over the center field fence to extend the Panther lead to 3-0. An insurance run was added by Parkview in the 6th inning as Michael Craig scored from 3rd on a passed ball. Milton’s offense was led by a double from Alex Schnell and two singles from Ryan Gridley and Alec Miller.