Nixon and Burton combine for 17 K’s; Nixon wins it with a late two-run blast
by Joe DiBlasi
The playing conditions were abysmal in Severna Park, Wednesday afternoon, but the play was top-notch as No. 11 Archbishop Curley edged second-ranked Archbishop Spalding, 2-1, in early season battle between two MIAA A Conference baseball powers.
A cold, steady rain with temperatures hovering in the mid-forties throughout the entire game was a great benefit to the pitchers on both teams, in a game where two talented offensive teams were only able to muster three runs and seven hits combined.
Curley’s Paul Nixon and Corey Burton struck out 17 Cavalier batters, and held a potent Cavalier offense to just one run. Nixon went five strong innings to get the win. He fanned 11 and Burton struck out the side in both the sixth and seventh innings in relief for Coach Brooks Norris, while protecting a one-run lead.
Nixon added insult to injury by winning his own game with a two-run homer in the sixth inning over the right-center field fence that gave the Friars the runs they needed to win to move to 3-0 in the area’s top league.
“My last time out against St. Mary’s I only used two sliders in two innings, but today I had a good feel for it,” said Nixon. “It was my strike out pitch and my go-to pitch all day.”
Nixon struck out the side in both the first and third innings and he surrendered the only run that the Cavs would get in the fourth frame, when Cory Blohm doubled home Alex Green, after Green broke up Nixon’s no-hitter with a two-out bloop single to center.
Curley’s Burton not only saved the game on the mound for the Friars, but he also made a huge defensive contribution in the bottom of the fourth after Blohm’s double, when he robbed Spalding’s Eric Rottman of extra-bases with a sparkling catch.
Burton and Nixon both talked about how important it was to beat a team like Spalding.
“Beating them today is really big for us,” said Nixon.
The win leaves us undefeated in the conference at this point.”
Burton said it was a huge win. “They are ranked high in the state and today we earned some respect.”
Regarding his job on the mound Burton said he relied on his curveball. “I’ve used my curveball throughout my career and today it was really working. I used it to get ahead and to finish off.”
“Paul and Corey came up huge on the mound and Paul hit a big home run,” said Curley coach Brooks Norris. “We played a solid game; we hit a lot of balls hard but right at them. I know we had only three hits but we could easily have had seven or eight.”
On recording 17 strikeouts, Norris said his team has a lot of good arms this year.
“We have a lot of good strikeout pitchers. Paul has been in the upper 80’s with his fastball to go with a really good slider, and Corey is impressive as well.”
Cavalier coach Joe Palumbo also got a well pitched game from his starter Nate Vermillion.
Vermilion went six strong innings giving up just two runs and three hits, but one of those hits was the Nixon two-run shot in the sixth inning, which came after a one-out walk to Curley’s leadoff hitter Tyler Locklear.
“Vermillion showed some toughness against a really, really good lineup,” said Palumbo. “It’s usually one or two plays that make a difference in games in this league.
“We had one big hit from Cory Blohm in the fourth inning, but we just couldn’t get that big hit late.”
Spalding had runners at first and second with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, when a base-hit could have tied or won the game, but Curley’s Burton struck out one of Spalding’s clutch hitters, Justin Caeser,
to end the game.
Curley is now just one of two remaining undefeated teams in the A Conference, as they are a half game back of 4-0 John Carroll, which defeated Calvert Hall, 3-1, on Wednesday. Spalding (4-2 overall) remains close to the top at 2-1, where it is tied for third with Mount St. Joseph, which routed McDonogh, 11-0, on Wednesday.
“We expected Curley to be tough this season, and today they proved that they are,” added the Cavaliers’ skipper.
Pictured above: Corey Burton (left) struck out the side in the sixth and seventh innings, and starter Paul Nixon had 11 K’s in five innings for work for the Friars.
NO. 11 ARCHBISHOP CURLEY 2, NO. 2 ARCHBISHOP SPALDING 1
AC 000 002 0 – 2 3 2
AS 000 100 0 – 1 4 1
AC-Nixon, Burton (6), and Gast-Woodard; AS-Vermillion, Sherman, and Pelletreau
2B: AS-Blohm, Benitez.