By Alan Cole
For the Forsyth County News
LILBURN — A couple of swings of the bat helped Parkview past Denmark on Tuesday, ending the Danes' season in the Class 7A Elite Eight.
Ryan Spikes hit a grand slam in Game 1 that gave Parkview a 4-2 win, and Dylan Carleton hit a game-winning two-run double in the seventh inning of a 7-5 win in the nightcap to complete the sweep.
The totals for the day were almost identical, with Parkview winning the aggregate run count only 11-7 and the hit tally 19-17. But in 14 innings of tight baseball, a small handful of plays decided the series.
Denmark led 1-0 in the second inning of Game 1 after Jake Myers' RBI groundout, but Parkview loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the frame thanks to three consecutive singles from the bottom third of the lineup. That brought up the lead-off hitter Ryan Spikes with a huge chance to erase the deficit. The Tennessee committed shortstop only saw one pitch, but he deposited it over the left-field wall for a grand slam.
That grand slam staked ace Mason Brown to a 4-1 lead, and he took the baton from there. He did allow eight hits across six innings, but seven of them were singles and he scattered them enough to limit damage. Brody Wheeler and Gray Wilson each finished 2-for-3, with Wheeler scoring once and driving in a run.
Denmark’s biggest threat came in the top of the sixth. The Danes had already cut the lead to 4-2 on an RBI groundout and had the go-ahead run at the plate with runners on the corners and just one out. Myers hit a one-hopper to second baseman Cayden Gaskin, who delivered a strike to Spikes at shortstop to start a 4-6-3 double play that ended the threat.
That was the final of Brown’s 92 pitches in the game, and it was also the one that preserved a slim lead.
Spikes came in from his shortstop position to shut the game down in the seventh, and he delivered a 1-2-3 inning to lock up a 4-2 Parkview victory.
“Both teams had chances all night,” Denmark coach Jamie Corr said. “This was their night to come up with the big hit.”
Denmark again jumped out to another lead early in Game 2, plating three runs in the bottom of the first inning. Third baseman Connor McGinn got it started with a two-run triple, and Wheeler singled him home to tack on the third run.
Parkview found itself staring down another deficit, but not for long. After closing the gap to 3-2 in the second inning on an RBI double by Gaskin, center fielder Dylan Carleton led off the fourth with a home run that barely found its way over the wall in left field.
Denmark hit back with two runs in the bottom half of the frame, and again the Panthers needed a spark. As was the case all day, Spikes was there. He got the rally started in the fifth, tripling and scoring on a Colin Houck sacrifice fly that made it 5-4.
“Ryan Spikes is such a dude,” Parkview head coach Chan Brown said laughing. “He’s such a dynamic player. He’s a game-changer when he does things right, and it’s fun to watch.”
Later in the inning with runners on the corners and two out against Denmark starter Samaran Ramanathan, Carleton smoked a base hit back into center field that knotted the score at five.
The game stayed 5-5 until Carleton came back up to bat in the seventh with runners on second and first and one out. He picked up his second clutch hit in as many at-bats with a double into the left center-field gap. Both Parkview runners scored, completing the comeback and giving the hosts a 7-5 lead.
Spikes came on for his second save of the day. He surrendered a leadoff single that allowed the tying run to reach the plate, but erased the danger with a stealth pick-off move.
Now with the bases empty, Spikes retired the final two hitters to close out the series. He finished the day 4-for-6 at the plate with four RBIs, adding two saves on the mound.
“This senior class has had two full seasons and they’ve made one state final and one Elite Eight,” Corr said reflecting on his team’s season. “That’s an amazing start to an athletic program. They have really set the precedent of what Denmark baseball is going to be about.”