STORY BY CHIP CIRILLO | PHOTO BY CARL EDMONDSON, JR.
Blake Money hasn’t got much run support this season, but he received plenty Monday night.
The LSU commit struck out 12 and allowed four hits in seven innings in Summit’s 11-3 win at Overton in a Region 6-AAA semifinal.
“I was glad to see us finally score some runs for him,” Spartans coach Chad Kirby said. “He and Chris (McElvain) – they have had to battle all year because it seems like every time they pitch we score one or two runs. Finally, we broke out and were able to help him out a little tonight.”
Summit (22-11) visits Independence (24-10) in the region championship at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Money (7-1), a 6-foot-7 junior, retired the first 12 batters before cleanup hitter Case Fedun broke up the perfect game with a line-drive single to left-center field.
“Tonight, I would definitely say the fastball-changeup combo was definitely my favorite,” Money said when asked what pitches were working best. “(The no-no) was always in the back of my mind. I’m not a big keeping those superstitions, like, don’t step on the white line or don’t say perfect game. Just go ahead and say it.”
Money said his fastball has been in the 90-93-mph range and topped at 94 mph in his last couple of starts.
Summit broke up a scoreless tie with nine runs in the third inning when it sent 14 batters to the plate.
Colton Jordan started the inning with a groundout to second base, but Kirby argued the close call at first. The umpires reversed the call, ruling Jordan safe and it was downhill from there for the Bobcats (24-8).
“Give them credit,” Overton coach Mike Morrison said. “They hit the baseball a little bit there at that time.”
A few calls went against Overton in the third, but Morrison refused to use that as an excuse.
“You’ve got to overcome that and that’s the part that got us a little bit with some of our youth,” Morrison said. “They’re a good baseball team. No one’s out there trying to get you.”
Morrison said Money’s velocity made him tough to hit.
“We haven’t seen stuff like that,” Morrison said. “When he lets it go, it’s pretty tough.”
Money went 3 for 4, including an RBI single that increased the Spartans’ lead to 10-0 in the fifth.
“He’s got good velocity, he’s got great command of the strike zone and he can throw his off-speed for strikes.” Kirby said. “They’re an aggressive team and we kind of knew if he had his off-speed going, we’d get some swing and misses tonight.”
Money finished strong, striking out four of the last five batters although Kevin Baker ripped a solo homer that was barely fair down the left-field line.
“It was a fastball right down the middle,” Baker said. “He started to change speeds during the middle of the game, like, with the changeups. He started throwing first-pitch strikes and got our timing off.”
It appears Kirby might save McElvain (6-1), a Vanderbilt signee, for Friday’s sectional.
“I highly doubt it,” said Kirby when asked if he’ll go with his ace against Indy. “He’s good to go, but I doubt Chris throws Wednesday. But we hadn’t made any decisions on that yet.”
Summit beat Independence twice in the regular season, but the Eagles edged the Spartans 2-1 in the District 11-AAA Tournament en route to the title.
“All these kids are friends, so it’ll be fun,” Kirby said of the Spring Hill-Thompson’s Station rivalry.