Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Parkview hoists the Class AAAAA state championship trophy, including Jarrett Freeland, left, and Matt Olson, right, following Saturday's win over Brookwood.
LILBURN -- If the history of the Parkview-Brookwood athletic rivalry was ever put into book form, the amount of drama, emotion, heroics, plot twists and suspense produced over the years would probably be enough to fill even the largest library.
The latest chapter, played out in the Panthers' 5-2 and 6-3 sweep of the Broncos for the 2012 Class AAAAA state baseball championship Saturday Hugh Buchanan Field produced its share of all of those qualities.
But with their victory, the Panthers (31-6) etched their names not only in the annals of the rivalry and Parkview's program history, but also the state's high school baseball scene.
On the heels of last year's state championship, Saturday's victories made Parkview the first team in the state's highest classification to win back-to-back titles since the Panthers did so in 2001-02 -- when Buchanan was the head coach of a team that included names like Francoeur and Sammons.
It's an accomplishment that was the perfect ending for the team's seniors, and one they envisioned from the beginning.
"Our rising ninth-grade year, (current Parkview coach Chan Brown) made that summer team for us," Panther senior pitcher/first baseman Matt Olson said. "After playing that summer, ... we saw Coach Buck (Buchanan) and (current Kansas City Royals outfielder Jeff) Francoeur's numbers retired on the wall. It (read) "20" "12" and we'd joke around about it and say, 'That's our year.' It turned out last year was our year, and this year."
It was Parkview's year for the second straight season thanks to a variety of heroes.
Some were predictable, like Olson (12-1).
The Vanderbilt signee and last year's Daily Post Co-Player of the Year, who went the distance in getting the win in Game 1 by giving up just five hits and two unearned runs with four strikeouts and going 4-for-7 with two home runs and three RBIs at the plate, including a tie-breaking solo homer in the decisive seventh-inning rally in Game 2.
And there were others like Jesse Foster, who gave up just five hits and one run in five innings in Game 2 and Jack Esmonde (4-1), the winning pitcher in Game 2 who also went 3-for-7 with two RBIs at the plate in the doubleheader.
Others were less predictable, such as catcher Hunter Thornton (3-for-7 in the series), rightfielder Ryan Blanton (4-for-7, RBI) and perhaps most notably, leftfielder A.J. Davis.
Primarily a reserve player most of the season until about three weeks earlier, the senior stepped into the lineup when Esmonde moved to second base to replace an injured Jeff Ronpirin and waited for his opportunity.
That opportunity came in the nightcap, when Davis delivered a 2-for-3 performance that included a two-run homer in the third inning that gave the Panthers a lead, plus a bases-loaded, RBI walk during the decisive seventh inning.
"This is crazy," said Davis, who came into the series hitting just .241 for the season. "We all worked so hard. ... I'm just glad I got to help out the team.
"Everybody has a specific role on the team. You just have to come up big whenever we need it. I'm glad I got to do that (Saturday)."
Even in defeat, Brookwood (25-12) also had several players do their part in enhancing the Broncos' legacy, which includes state titles in 1986 and 2008 and four trips to at least the state quarterfinals in the last five years.
There was Clemson signee and top draft prospect Lucas Sims (8-1), who gave a solid, if not spectacular, complete-game effort on the mound in the opener and went 2-for-4 with a homer and two RBIs in the nightcap, plus third baseman Michael Gouge (5-for-7 in the series) and first baseman Ryan Woodard (3-for-7, RBI).
Perhaps the most unsung hero for Brookwood may have been Game 2 starting pitcher Allen Tokarz (4-6), who was effective in keeping the Parkview bats relatively in check most of the game before tiring in the seventh.
But despite those heroics, which saw the Broncos twice rally from deficits to tie Game 2, including consecutive doubles by Gouge, Woodward and Sims that led to two runs in the sixth, they could never quite get all the way to the top of the mountain they had to climb all day.
"You can sit and wish and want all your want," Brookwood coach Rick Howard said. "We weren't able to get that done (Saturday). ... Sure, had we been able to get a lead, maybe things would've changed and broken (our way) a little bit. But to (Parkview's) credit, they took care of situations when they needed to."
And they did so in front of an emotionally charged crowd that likely exceeded 2,000 and filled the permanent and temporary bleachers around Buchanan Field that made the Panthers' accomplishment that much more satisfying.
"Last year about the second round, this community started coming through," Parkview coach Chan Brown said. "They followed us down to Colquitt (County for the 2011 semifinals), and it's kind of been electric since. I can't say enough about our student body. ... They're here for the right reasons."