By Maurice Patton
SUMMERTOWN – Zac Curtis made his Loretto/Summertown baseball rivalry debut Monday night.
The first-year Mustang coach didn’t stick around for the end, though, as he and Loretto first baseman Josh Porter were ejected in the sixth inning of the host Eagles’ eventual 9-2 District 12-A victory.
It’s anticipated that both will likely miss the next two games – including Tuesday’s homefield matchup against Summertown.
“We’re sitting there, the guy (Gavin Burleson) hits a home run, me and Coach (Toby) Dunn are talking about how we’re going to face them (Tuesday) night,” Loretto assistant David Weathers said. “We throw a wild pitch; I thought it was just a wild pitch. We hit (Skylar) Trousdale. As he’s going to first, he’s saying something to Zac. The umpire comes over and throws out first baseman out and our (coach) out. I guess they thought it was intentional.
“The crazy thing was, they’re running down the first-base line barking at Zac. The emotions of the game, the rivalry – it’s one of those things.”
Summertown coach Jason Burleson concurred with Weathers’ assessment of the history between the two teams.
“It gets chippy every game. It’s like this every game,” he said after the Eagles moved to 12-2 (7-0). “You just go and get ready for the next one.”
By the time Gavin Burleson hit his first homer of the season – a solo shot over the batter’s eye, which stands more than 20 feet high in center field – with one out in the sixth, the hosts had the contest well in hand. The Eagles scored two runs in the bottom of the first and two more in the bottom of the third, then added a four-run fifth to chase Loretto starter Connor Clemons.
Meanwhile, Grant Burleson was rolling through the Mustang batting order, striking out 14 over six innings and allowing just four hits.
“We knew they were good,” Weathers said. “Especially 1 through 6 (in the order) – really good. We made some pitches at times and at times when you miss against those guys in the middle of the plate, they’re going to hit it. Grant did a good job. He’s one of the best pitchers probably in Middle Tennessee. We didn’t play our best game. That’s how you get beat 9-2.”
Loretto (9-8, 6-1) had a chance to break on top from the start, as Caleb Davis doubled and Garrett Fisher reached on a bunt single to open the game against Grant Burleson. After Fisher stole second base, Burleson came back with two strikeouts, a walk to load the bases, and a strikeout with the out recorded at home plate to squelch the threat.
“We were lucky to get out of the first,” Grant Burleson said. “I got a little worried, but I worked through it and got out of it. As long as we could score a couple of runs early, I felt like we were going to be alright.”
Drake Blackwood and Gavin Burleson – who tripled prior to his homer — each went 3-for-4 to lead Summertown offensively, with Grayson Burleson and Cory Francis each driving in a pair of runs.
“We’ve got some offense,” Jason Burleson said. “Sometimes it takes a few innings to get going, but we’ve had pretty good offense all year long.”
Despite the decisive win, the coach wasn’t ready to declare – as an Eagles fan did – that “the tide is turning” in the Lawrence County rivalry.
“I don’t know about all that,” Jason Burleson said. “We’ve always won quite a few ballgames, until they had a certain group come through, and they were good. We had a hard time beating them
“I’m not saying the tide’s turning. We knew were in for a dogfight. They’ve got a lot of history the last four or five years. We feel like we’ve got a good ballclub this year, too.”
Summertown 9, Loretto 2
L 000 101 0 – 2 5 0
S 202 041 x – 9 11 1
Connor Clemons, Kade Lay (5) and Clint Seymore. Grant Burleson, Gavin Burleson (8) and Lane Burleson. W: Gr. Burleson. L: Clemons. HR: Summertown – Gv. Burleson.
Photos by Rob Fleming / SM-Tn Sports