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Family tradition: Murton signs with Georgia Tech

By Doug Gorman

When Eagle's Landing High School baseball player Luke Murton steps to the plate for the first time as a senior, he won't have to worry about where he is going to play college baseball.

Murton took care of that piece of business Wednesday afternoon when he signed a letter of intent to play baseball at Georgia Tech.

Murton no doubt listened to his big brother Matt before signing with the Yellow Jackets. Matt was a three-year powering-hitting outfielder for head coach Danny Hall's Georgia Tech team, who was originally drafted by the Boston Red Sox after his junior season in 2003.

Matt Murton is now in the Chicago Cubs organization after getting traded as part of the Normar Garciaparra deal. Garciaparra also played at Georgia Tech.

Although Matt was a standout player at Eagle's Landing and at Tech, Luke hasn't had any problems making a name for himself, and when it came time to sign his scholarship, the younger brother made up his own mind.

"Matt played a role," said Luke. "Just like my brother, anybody in my family plays a big role in my life. My brother went there and he told me it was a good school. I thought about some other schools, but Tech just seemed to be the best spot for me."

Luke expects to play first base and possiblyplay designated hitter for Hall once he arrives at Georgia Tech.

As a high school player, Luke wasted little time finding a spot with the Golden Eagles, working his way into the starting lineup as a freshman for former Eagle's Landing head coach Blake Lyons, who coached both of the Murtons before stepping down last year in order to spend more time with his family.

"When he came in he had a pretty heavy burden on him," said Lyons. "If he didn't go 4-for-4 people wanted to know what was wrong. I think he had a lot more pressure on him than any player I have had the opportunity to coach, but he has maintained an even keel. He is very balanced in his life, and he's got a great disposition."

As freshman, Luke played through some injuries and produced in the clutch as a designated hitter. During his sophomore year, the Golden Eagles made the state tournament for the first time. Luke came up with some clutch hits as the Golden Eagles beat Coffee County in the first round.

Matt played the role of the proud big brother at Wednesday's ceremony.

"First of all, I gave him some advice about the recruiting process, but ultimately it was his decision, and I'm really proud of him. He's looking forward to taking it to the next level. He has his senior year coming up and I know he wants to do well," Matt said.

Signing now has freed Luke up to enjoy his senior season at Eagle's Landing.

" There is a lot of anticipation, you work really hard over the years for a common goal, once you reach it, you're happy, but you're not satisfied, because you know there is more work to do," Luke said.

Luke's path to Georgia Tech began more than a decade ago when he stepped on to the baseball diamond as a young t-ball player. Except for taking one summer off, he has played every year since.

This year, he spent the summer playing in Ohio, and helping his team win the Connie Mack World Series.

"You play with guys all summer and you live with them, and it's just a great experience," he said.

Luke's father Bill is glad to see his younger son continue the family tradition by attending Georgia Tech.

"Tech is a great school for both baseball and academics," Bill said. "He is benefiting from what his brother already went through."

Luke stays in shape for the baseball season by playing basketball. In the season opener Tuesday night, the Golden Eagles lost to Heritage, but Murton tossed in 23 points.

First-year head coach Toby Evans looks forward to coaching Luke in his final year of high school baseball. Evans served last season as an assistant coach at Eagle's Landing for Troy Baker, who is now head coach at Henry County.

Evans is already impressed with Luke's ability as a baseball player.

"It is going to be a fun year," he said. "Not only can I teach him some things, he can teach me some things. "He is not a vocal leader, but he leads by example."

By signing with Tech, Luke continues a Southern Crescent pipeline to the nationally ranked college baseball team.

In addition to his brother, former Jonesboro standout Jason Perry also played for the Yellow Jackets before turning pro.

Matt and Perry were teammates on the Tech team that made it to the NCAA Division I College World Series.