Coach Kyle Reese (5) and his Mount Paran Christian players look on dismayed Saturday night after the final out of the Class A private school state championship series at Eagle’s Landing Christian. For the second straight season, the Eagles saw their season come to a close with a series sweep at the Chargers’ hands.
Staff photo by Laura Moon
McDONOUGH — Meaningful at-bats eluded Mount Paran Christian as it lost its bid for its first state championship after getting swept 5-1 and 4-1 Saturday in the Class A private school state championship at Eagle’s Landing Christian.
Mount Paran (28-5) produced nine hits in the doubleheader, but only one — Isaac Phillips’ double in Game 2 — went for extra bases.
Meanwhile, Eagle’s Landing Christian (30-3) collected 13 hits, with three home runs and two doubles. The Chargers also took advantage by scoring a pair of two-out runs in the fourth and fifth innings of Game 2.
Mount Paran walked away with another state runner-up crown, after doing the same in 2005, while Eagle’s Landing Christian earned its second state title after winning it all in 2006.
“We had our opportunities,” Mount Paran coach Kyle Reese said. “There was no doubt. We had a chance to make a few plays that extended some of their innings, but you have to tip your hat to Eagle’s Landing. They were prepared. We were prepared, but they made their pitches and got the outs when they had to get them.
“They had some scrappy at-bats that ended up giving them some room where they could work a little bit. We had some opportunities, and there have been times where we’ve capitalized on those this year. When you play a ball club like that across from you, if you don’t capitalize on it, it will come back and get you sometimes.”
Mount Paran left the bases loaded in the first and seventh innings of Game 1. Not much else happened for the Eagles.
Dalton Etheridge allowed one hit over six shutout innings as Eagle’s Landing Christian took a 5-0 lead. Tyler Flowers’ single to center field with two outs in the sixth broke the Eagles’ hitless streak.
Mount Paran’s scoreless streak ended in the seventh. After Jake Palomaki singled and moved to second on a wild pitch, Taylor Trammell reached on an error and Ryan Murphy’s two-out single to right plated Palomaki for the Eagles’ lone run.
Schnure singled to load the bases, but the game ended with a strikeout.
“Game 1, we got bases loaded and just a routine base hit right there could have bust that thing open,” Reese said.
On the other side, Eagle’s Landing Christian scored five runs off eight hits, including Dazmon Cameron’s fifth-inning home run.
Cameron, the son of former major leaguer Mike Cameron, batted 2-for-3 with an RBI and scored twice. Andrew Gomez was 2-for-2 with an RBI and a run scored, Matthew Hammer had an RBI and walked twice and Jacob Heyward collected an RBI single in the third.
Hammer’s two-out single in the second scored Gomez who led off the inning with a double. Another two-out rally in the third scored Cameron and Heyward, the brother of Atlanta Braves star Jason Heyward for a 3-0 Chargers lead.
Eagle’s Landing Christian scored its final run in the sixth off a throwing error that plated courtesy runner Matthew Barton, who was in for Cameron Ragsdale after he led off the frame with a single.
Mount Paran did get a quality at-bat in the nightcap from Murphy, who singled home Landon Faulkner with two outs in the third.
The Eagles were unable to hold on to the 1-0 advantage, however, as Heyward hit a two-out home run in the top of the fourth to knot the contest at 1-all. Back-to-back singles from Gomez and Etheridge led to Ragsdale’s two-out double that scored Gomez and put the Chargers in front to stay 2-1.
D.J. Curl then got in on the action, belting a two-out homer in the fifth that also scored Cameron and lifted Eagle’s Landing Christian to the 4-1 final lead.
“We talked about it all year long,” Reese said. “(Two outs is) when stuff happens. That’s when you really have to bear down. And a couple of times, I think it was two quick outs (before Eagle’s Landing Christian scored).
“I don’t want to say we relaxed, but when you get those two quick outs, it has to be like a Game 7 right there. You really have to bear down.”
Mount Paran had runners on second and third with one out in the fourth, but Cole Ganopolus induced two groundball outs to leave the runners stranded.
Flowers batted 2-for-2 with a walk to pace the Eagles in the nightcap.
“These kids were unbelievable,” Reese said of his team. “The way these kids represented this school, you can’t ask for more than that. They’re a good group of kids.”