Lambert baseball coach Rick Howard was unsure how his retooled Longhorns roster that lacked varsity experience would handle the pressure.
He’s starting to get some answers.
A night after outlasting Forsyth Central ace Ethan Hankins for an extra-inning win, Lambert overcome an early deficit Wednesday with a five-run sixth inning to pull away for a 9-4 victory at home and improve to 2-0 early on in Region 5-7A play.
This time, Lambert (7-7, 2-0) outlasted Central (8-7, 0-2) senior starting pitcher Ryan Cox. The Piedmont College signee wasn’t as dominant as Hankins the night before, but he left after five innings in the same way Hankins did after seven – with the game tied.
The aftermath was about the same, too. Lambert loaded the bases with one out when Will Gabbert brought in two runs with a single. Chris West singled home another run on the next pitch. Jack Fleming followed with a two-run double, turning a 4-4 game into a rout.
“It warms you up a little bit when you put a 5-spot up,” Howard said. “It seems the big win yesterday real came into effect (Wednesday).”
Early on, Central seemed determined to erase memories of spoiling Hankins’ sterling outing on Tuesday. The Bulldogs (8-7, 0-2) loaded the bases in the first inning. Bradlee Brooks poked a single to drive in a run. Grant Cloud added a two-run single. Central led 3-0.
But Lambert clawed back. The Longhorns scored on a fielder’s choice and Bulldog error in the third to get within 3-2. Bobby Gabriel’s RBI single in the fourth tied the game.
Even when Cloud hit an RBI double to give Central a 4-3 lead in the fifth, Lambert put pressure on Cox in the bottom half of the inning so that a wild pitch brought in a run to tie the game again.
“We’re starting to keep our composure” Howard said. “Our kids are beginning to grow up and play all seven innings. So to see our kids comeback from 3-0 is huge in my book.”