By Maurice Patton
MURFREESBORO – ‘Offensively challenged’ wouldn’t have been an accurate characterization of Summertown – until this week.
For the second time in as many days, the Eagles were unable to dent the scoreboard as East Robertson brought their season to an end with a 2-0 decision in the Class A baseball state tournament Thursday at Riverdale.
Summertown lost 5-0 to the Indians on Wednesday, falling into the losers bracket, but answered with an 11-1 elimination game victory over University School-Johnson City – their second run-rule win against the Buccaneers, following a 10-0 triumph in Tuesday’s tourney opener.
The Eagles’ second matchup got off to a sour start, as Christian Brothers University signee Van True staked East Robertson to a 1-0 lead with a one-out home run off Class A Mr. Baseball Grant Burleson.
As it turned out, that would be all the offense Indians starter Dylan Stroud would need. He and reliever Alex Patterson held Summertown (30-10) two hits – a bloop single by Skyler Trousdale to lead off the fifth, and a one-out line drive into left field by Grayson Burleson in the seventh as the Eagles tried desperately to rally. After Burleson’s base hit was mishandled by Miller Cothron, allowing him to move to second base, Patterson struck out Trousdale and got Cory Francis to ground out to shortstop to end the game.
“We had three hits in two games, and they scored a couple of runs on us,” Grant Burleson said after the loss. “It’s hard to say they’re better than us. But we didn’t hit.
“They mixed pitches well. They ‘curved’ our top three hitters (Gavin Burleson, Drake Blackwood, Grant Burleson) a lot. They mixed pitches and got outs. We couldn’t get enough hits to get a run in. We couldn’t put anything together.”
East Robertson (29-7) put up an insurance run in the top of the sixth as True’s sacrifice fly scored Carson Searcy, who led off the inning with a single.
Besides that, Grant Burleson limited the Indians offensively – but the damage, with East Robertson’s mound work, was done.
“Our guys have worked hard all year and fell into who they are, and they’ve blossomed,” East Robertson coach Derek Wix said of the job his pitching corps did this week while preserving Peyton Smith. The Vanderbilt signee has not pitched since the team’s 3-1 sectional win Friday over visiting Loretto.
“He’s available,” Wix said regarding Friday’s 1 p.m. championship matchup at Blackman, when the Indians will face Moore County, a 15-5 winner Thursday over South Pittsburg. “He threw a lot in the sectional. We’re nursing him. We’re not trying to push him. We’re not in the business of doing damage to a kid. He’s available, but so’s our No. 2 (True).”
Wix admitted he was pleasantly surprised at holding Summertown – which averaged 9.3 runs per game for the season – scoreless in two matchups this week.
“I don’t know if we had them off timing wise or with our movement or what, but we knew exactly what they’re capable of,” he said “We waited for it to happen. It never did.”
Both Grant Burleson and his dad, Summertown coach Jason Burleson, tried to maintain a healthy perspective following the loss.
“We did what we wanted to do, to a certain point,” Grant said. “We made it back to state. (Finishing) 30-10 is not a bad season. We almost made it to the championship.”
“’These seniors have been to state three times, they’ve been in the ‘Final Four’ – in this game – in 2019 and ’21,” Jason added. “When you get back and reflect, it’s hard enough to get here, it’s hard to win it. You’ve got to get some breaks.
“You hope these kids are thankful to get here. It’s hard to do and our seniors did it three years.”
East Robertson 2, Summertown 0
ER 100 001 0 — 2 4 2
ST 000 000 0 – 0 2 2
Dylan Stroud, Alex Patterson (6) and Wyatt Hobgood. Grant Burleson and Lane Burleson. W: Stroud. L: Patterson. HR: East Robertson – True.
Photos by Rob Fleming / SM-Tn Sports