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PREP BASEBALL: Only Cherokee Christian stands in the way of back-to-back state crowns for Peachtree Academy
Peachtree Baseball
The Peachtree Academy Panthers used a dominating offensive effort Friday to punch their ticket to the GICAA state championship series against Cherokee Christian this Friday. - Submitted Photo
PEACHTREE CITY, Ga. -- Thanks to a two-game sweep of The Campus (Peachtree City), the Peachtree Academy Panthers will play for their second straight Georgia Independent Christian Athletic Association’s State Championship.

The Panthers defeated the Campus 11-8 and 10-0 on Friday May 4 to advance to play Cherokee Christian at Woodstock in a best-two-of-three series to determine who will win the GICAA state crown.  

After winning the Div II-A state title in 2017, the Panthers have reloaded to make another run.

 "We weren't quite sure where we stood this year after losing seven seniors from last years championship team", Peachtree coach Skip Argo said. “But it looks as though the team is quite resilient and has the talent and moxie to do it again.” 

Argo spoke highly of the leadership characteristics of his players and coaches and how the team is focused on being the best it can be in each moment of the game. 

"We started the season slowly, but have really come on since our March 10 win at NCCA. We have gone 15-1 since that game. We had an intentionally brutal schedule early, but it prepared us for moment we now face.”

The Panthers certainly looked prepared entering Friday's best-fot-three series against The Campus Warriors in Peachtree City. In the first game, sophomore Walker Payton showed timely hitting, driving in five runs on a double in the first and a grand slam in the second to lead the Panthers past The Campus Warriors 11-8. 

The Panthers grabbed an early six-run lead on Payton's double in the first, a single by Dakota Boeckman and a 2-2 count grand slam by Payton in the second. 

The Warriors would mount some offense in a comeback attempt, scoring four runs in the fourth inning. Grayson Hopkins led things off on the hill for the Panthers , going three and two-thirds innings, allowing six hits and eight runs while striking out four.

The Panthers scattered 12 hits in the game. Hopkins, Ammand Dewbery and Payton each collected multiple hits for the Panthers. Dewberry and Hopkins each had three hits to lead the offensive barrage in game one.

In game two, it was all Peachtree Academy in the 10-0 victory, as two Panther pitchers, brothers Walker and Garrett Payton, combined to throw a shutout. 

The Panthers put up three runs in the third, then added four in the fifth and three more in the sixth.   

Walker Payton started on the mound for the Panthers and was masterful, matching the Warriors top pitcher pitch for pitch. He surrendered no runs on just two hits over five and a third innings while recording eight strikeouts.  

Senior Garrett Payton came on to close the game down, facing two batters and notching two strikeouts. 

Walker Payton was again an offensive juggernaut as he went 3-for-4 at the plate. 

Friday, the Panthers travel to Woodstock to take on Cherokee Christian in the best-of-three state championship series. The games will be played at Etowah High School and start at 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. with an "if needed" game on Saturday at 7 p.m.