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PREP BASEBALL: Panthers sweep for state title
Peachtree Academy defeats Cherokee Christian for third championship in five years
Peachtree baseball
Peachtree Academy boys baseball players celebrate after securing the sweep of Cherokee Christian to claim the GAPPS Division 2 Baseball State Championship on May 5. - photo by Garrett Pitts

COVINGTON, Ga. — Peachtree Academy swept both games of a doubleheader May 5 to take down Cherokee Christian and claim the Division 2 GAPPS State Championship. It is the third title for the Panthers in the past five seasons after winning games one and two 12-2 and 13-3, respectively. 

Peachtree Academy accomplished this behind two solid outings from Amman Dewberry and Dillon Whitfield. 

Dewberry took the mound for the Panthers in game one and the left-hander got into a rhythm immediately. After giving up one run on an RBI single from Brandon Scavelli in the first, Dewberry surrendered only one more hit on his way to five full innings.

At the plate, Dewberry tied the game up quickly in the bottom of the first as he ripped a triple into the gap to score Whitfield and tie the game off Cherokee Christian starter Daniel Geiger.

Panthers’ first baseman Connor Boeckman followed with a double to score Dewberry. Ethan Caldwell laced a ball into shallow right field before the end of the inning to give Peachtree Academy a 3-1 lead going into the second inning.

After giving up the lone run in the first, Dewberry cruised through the ensuing innings, striking out eight of his next 11 batters faced.

The Panthers were able to add one more run in the third inning on an RBI single from Zach Gothard.

Peachtree Academy broke the game open with a five-run fifth inning. 

AJ Lingerfelt provided ample production from the nine spot with a bases-clearing double to put the Panthers up 7-1.A triple from Whitfield and a single from Dewberry each scored a run to give the Panthers a 9-1 lead.

With Dewberry making the move to centerfield in the sixth, the Warriors were finally able to get back into the run column with a triple from Scavelli that brought one runner across.

Down 9-2, the Warriors brought Eli Crump out to relieve Geiger.

The Panthers capitalized despite the pitching change as Crump hit Panthers’ batter Tyler Loew with the bases loaded to force in a run. 

Whitfield took advantage of the bases loaded jam and walked the game off with a two-run double to give the Panthers the win in game one due to the mercy rule. 

Dewberry finished game one by pitching five full innings while allowing only two hits and striking out 11 batters. 

In addition to his solid outing on the mound, Dewberry had a solid game at the plate. He finished with two hits and two RBIs, as well as two walks.

Whitfield put together a good game at the plate in game one, as he tallied three hits, three RBIs, and one walk.

“When you talk about baseball players, that is [Amman and Dillon],” Peachtree Academy head coach Kevin Boeckman said. “They have been seeing the ball so well, and they absolutely contributed to [the championship]”

After catching all of game one for the Panthers, Whitfield took the mound in game two to face Scavelli, who made the switch from third base to pitcher for Cherokee. 

After both Dewberry and Whitfield reached in the first, Boeckman’s line drive to left field was mishandled by the Warriors’ left fielder, which allowed all three runners to score on the inside-the-park home run to give the Panthers an early lead against Scavelli.

Peachtree Academy did not stop there as they were able to bring across six total runs in the opening inning.

“We wanted to get on their fastball and be aggressive, especially in the second game [with Scavelli],” coach Boeckman said. 

With a 6-0 lead in the first, Whitfield found himself in a jam early on as he faced the bases loaded with only one out. A quick strikeout followed by a groundout to second allowed him to escape the jam without allowing a run.

“[Dillon] is a baller,” coach Boeckman said. “That is what I think won us the championship. We go and put a six spot on their No. 1 guy, and we are able to get out of bases loaded with one out. He grinded it out and made the pitches when he needed to.”

After the first two batters for the Panthers reached in the second, Gothard scored both a two-run single. Later in the inning, Loew scored one more to give Peachtree Academy a 9-0 lead going into the second.

With Cherokee Christian’s back against the wall, they were able to score two runners in the bottom of the second to reduce the deficit to 9-2.

The Panthers did not go away, however, as they added three more runners in the top of the third as another costly error by the Warriors gave up runs.

 Following a sacrifice fly by the Warriors in the bottom of the third, the Panthers led 12-3.

Another Warriors’ error in the fifth allowed Panthers’ Ethan Caldwell to score to give Peachtree Academy a 13-3 lead.

With Gothard on the mound in the bottom of the fifth, the Panthers got the final three outs to force a second straight mercy rule victory to put Peachtree Academy back on the mountain top with another baseball championship.

“It is awesome [to win another championship],” coach Boeckman said. “I knew we had a special team; I knew if they worked hard then we could finish off with a championship.”