DISTRICT BASEBALL: Pearson’s walk-off grand slam sends Brentwood past Summit


DISTRICT BASEBALL: Pearson’s walk-off grand slam sends Brentwood past Summit

By CHIP CIRILLO

Caleb Pearson signed with Tennessee as a pitcher, but he’s pretty handy with the bat, too.

The Brentwood third baseman belted a two-out grand slam in the seventh inning to give the Bruins an 8-5 win over visiting Summit in a District 11-AAA winners’ bracket semifinal Monday night.

“I don’t know if we’ve had a ball hit that far all year,” Bruins coach Bill Moore said.

With Brentwood trailing 5-4, Pearson crushed a full-count fastball from reliever Blake Money past the light pole in left field.

“I’ll be honest, my heart was racing,” Pearson said. “It was thumping so hard. At the beginning, I was nervous, but when it got full count I kind of settled in.

Brentwood third baseman/pitcher Caleb Pearson

“I was like, what could go wrong? Swing as hard as you can because I knew he was attacking and it was going to be somewhere in the zone, so I just went for it.”

Money, a 6-foot-6 sophomore who has committed to LSU, gave up the homer on an inside fastball. His fastball has been clocked at 90 mph.

“I love it there,” Pearson said of the inside location.

Money played in two straight Little League World Series from 2013-14 with South Nashville.

It’s been quite a tournament for Pearson, who improved to 9-0 with a no-hitter in a 6-0 first-round win over Page on Friday. He needed only 76 pitches for his gem.

“It’s unreal,” said Pearson, a 6-1 senior whose fastball has been clocked at 92 mph.

Brentwood (22-7), the defending state champion, hosts archrival Ravenwood in the winners’ bracket final at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

The top-seeded Bruins clinched a spot in the Region 6-AAA tournament by winning the 11-AAA regular-season title.

No. 4 Summit (17-10) entered the seventh with a 5-3 lead, but Brentwood narrowed the deficit to one on second baseman Chris McElvain’s throwing error. McElvain has committed to Vanderbilt as a pitcher.

Summit grabbed a 3-0 lead in the first on Reid Petersen’s groundout and Brice Russell’s two-run single as Brentwood starter Connor Smith struggled early.

“That’s pretty uncharacteristic of him and I was really proud of him for regrouping after the first inning,” Moore said. “That could have gone bad for a lot of guys and he did a good job of gathering it together and pitching really well for the rest of the game.”

Summit plays Independence in a 4:30 p.m. elimination game Tuesday.

Mason Keidel’s three-run homer to right field tied the game 3-3 in the fourth.

The Spartans reclaimed a 4-3 lead when courtesy runner Parker Dean scored during a rundown between first and second base in the fifth.

McElvain’s RBI double down the left-field line increased the Spartans’ lead to 5-3 in the top of the seventh.

“It’s tough coming in and shutting them down for a while and then giving up a hit,” said Summit relief pitcher Cole Hendrix. “I think it was a good pitch and (Pearson) just made a good hit.”

Summit star: Florida outfielder Wil Dalton, a former Summit star, is tied for the Southeastern Conference lead with 16 home runs. Kentucky’s Luke Heyer and Kole Kottam also have 16.

Dalton is tied for fourth with Ole Miss’ Thomas Dillard with 48 RBI.

“I was telling somebody the other day, he’s worked hard his entire career and a lot of times people think if you work hard it’s instant success and that’s just not the way it works,” Summit coach Chad Kirby said. “He’s reaping the benefits now for the hard work he’s done the whole time.”

Dalton is showing more power now than he did with Summit.

“He’s a man now,” Kirby said. “He could always hit and he could put it in the gap and that sort of thing. He hit a few home runs, but our field – the wind’s always blowing in. Nothing like this.”

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