NASHVILLE -- Runs have been hard to come by at times for the Summit Spartans this season. Fortunately for Summit, their bats seem to have come to life at just the right time.
The Spartans exploded for nine runs in the third inning on their way to an 11-3 road victory over the Overton Bobcats in the Region 6-AAA semifinals Monday night. Pair that with another stellar performance on the mound by Summit starting pitcher Blake Money, and the Spartans are now one step closer to a regional championship.
The LSU commit silenced the Bobcats’ bats for most of the evening, pitching a complete game and striking out 12 in the process. Money also pitched in with some damage at the plate, going 3-for-4 with two RBI singles to help his own cause.
“Tonight wasn’t anything new. That’s how Blake’s been all year long and he’s just rolling right now,” Summit coach Chad Kirby said of his ace’s performance. “I was comfortable when we got those first three runs, but we just kept rolling after that.”
The Spartans will square off with District 11 champion Independence on Wednesday, which will be the fourth meeting between the two schools this season. Summit won both regular season meetings but suffered a 2-1 loss to the Eagles in the district tournament on May 6. Now they’ll battle once again for a bigger prize: the regional title.
“Both teams know each other really well at this point, so it’s going to be a fun game,” Kirby said.
After two scoreless innings, Summit second baseman Colton Jordan led off the top of the third with a hard grounder up the middle of the infield. Overton second baseman Tue Cope made a sliding play and delivered a quick throw to first baseman Case Fedun, who made an acrobatic stretch as Jordan sprinted toward the bag.
Jordan was initially called out, but after consulting with the home plate umpire the play was overturned and Jordan was ruled safe—Fedun’s foot apparently came off the bag trying to make the play.
After that, the wheels came off for Overton.
“No matter what, we have to overcome that. We knew we were going to be nearly flawless, hold things down and then maybe, in a game that was still close, come up with some big hits,” Overton coach Mike Morrison. “But it just didn’t work out for us that way tonight. It wasn’t in the cards.”
Bobcats starting pitcher Tanner Langley walked the next batter and then left a hanging breaking ball up in the zone for Spartans catcher Chris McElvain, who ripped a line drive to left-center for an RBI single to give Summit a 1-0 lead. The Spartans offense then erupted for eight more runs in the inning—including RBI singles by Jordan, Money and first baseman Tre Hunter—to take a 9-0 lead.
“It’s great to see our guys get hits, especially at this time of the year,” Money said. “It’s great for us to step up and capitalize on that, and it makes it a lot easier to pitch with a big lead.”
Those runs were more than enough cushion for Money, who used a lethal fastball-changeup combination to keep the Bobcats off balance. Up until the fifth inning, Money was throwing a perfect game.
But the Bobcats’ bats briefly burst to life in the bottom of the fifth with Langley yanking an RBI double down the third base line to put Overton on the board. Langley then scored two batters later on an error by Hunter at first base that would have ended the inning to make it a 10-2 game heading into the sixth.
Money, despite giving up a solo home run with two outs to designated hitter Kevin Baker, struck out the side in the bottom of the seventh to seal the game for the Spartans.