BY CHRIS LEE
NASHVILLE, Tenn,—Summit pitcher Blake Money threw six strong innings and provided a big hit, leading the Spartans to a 5-3 win over Ravenwood at Vanderbilt’s Hawkins Field on Monday evening in the season opener for both schools.
Money, Summit catcher Chris McElwain, shortstop Bricen Russell and third baseman Alex Runk all had big hits in a four-run third as the Spartans overcame a four-run deficit.
The Summit defense, keyed by Russell and second baseman Colton Jordan, turned three double plays. A twin killing provided the first two outs of the seventh, and then right-hander Cole Hendrix closed it with a strikeout.
The game featured three Southeastern Conference baseball commitments in McElwain (2019—Vanderbilt), Money (2020-LSU) and Ravenwood third baseman Zane Denton (2019-Alabama).
Money threw six stellar innings, striking out seven and picking up the win, with a fastball that dipped into the low-90s.
“At the very beginning, he hit his spots very well,”McElwain said of Money. “Threw three great pitches. He was very consistent with his fastball and change-up, and threw a few good breaking balls.”
Money struggled in the middle innings with hitting those spots, but was good enough to pick up the win anyway.
“They have a very good hitting team,” Money said. “The middle of their lineup is very strong. Tonight, it was just all about execution. It lacked on my side. I got the pitch count up higher than I wanted it to be, but just thankful I had the opportunity to stay in as long as I did.”
Until that sixth-inning rally, the story was Ravenwood right-hander Shane Craig, who threw five shutout innings, striking out four while allowing just one walk. He kept Summit off-balance with his three-quarters delivery, a fastball that he ran into the mid-80s and a curve ball.
“He has an infield arm action, almost, where he hides the ball well, and it’s hard to see” Ravenwood coach Danny Borne said of Craig, a junior who’s normally a shortstop and just started pitching.
“We struggled to recognize the pitch we wanted, and we struggled chasing things away,” McElwain said.
But Craig was on a 75-pitch limit. Once he left, everything changed.
McElvain lined a slider to right-center for a double off right-hander Ben Callahan to lead off the sixth. Russell followed with a line-drive single to right and then took second on right fielder Lawson Evans’s throwing error.
Money then lined a single up the middle to score Summit’s first run.
Ravenwood again went to the bullpen. Right-hander Jackson Sherrill hit DH Steven Smith with his first pitch to load the bases.
A wild pitch scored the second run, then, Runk lined a single to right to tie.
Hendrix, then playing right, grounded to the right side against Denton to score Smith for the go-ahead run.
“We caught a roll and we got it going,” Money said. “Some teammates in front of me got on the bag; they gave me the opportunity to produce for the team in the sixth inning. I was able to come up big right there.”
In the seventh, McElwain who had singled, got picked off first. But McElwain was in a run-down long enough to allow center fielder Cole Thomason, who’d walked and stolen second, to score from third for a 5-3 advantage.
The Raptors scored the game’s first runs off Money in the fourth.
Craig and Denton, who started at third, walked. Sherrill, who started in left, sacrificed each over. McElwain tried to pick Craig off first but his throw got past Runk and into left for the game’s first run.
A hitter later, Lawson rapped a solid single to make it 2-0.
Ravenwood added another in the firth when shortstop Ben Severance singled off Runk’s glove with two outs, scoring center fielder Brian Garcia.
The Raptors suffered a pair of game-ending injuries to starting players.
RHS catcher James Cifford was removed from the game in the fifth after getting hit by second baseman Colton Jordan’s back-swing in the firth. He was replaced by sophomore Owen Davis.
In the seventh, Garcia, the starting quarterback on the football team, was hit in the side of the helmet with his pitch. He was on his back for several minutes before walking back to the Ravenwood dugout.
“I think they’ll be okay,” Borne said. “James had some movement in his hand. Brian… we’ll see. Day to day. We’ve got to get through the night and see how he responds in the morning.”
Summit coach Chad Kirby said he hadn’t been sure what to expect from his team in its opener.
“People were asking all [preseason], how are you going to be, how are you going to be? I [didn’t] know,” he said. “This team hadn’t played a game yet. But the thing about getting down early, it’s Game 1. Everyone’s pretty excited. I like our senior group. They’re going to fight. … That’s finally what got it started for us. We got balls on the barrel and got it rolling a little bit.”