Parker Brosius has certain freedoms on the basepaths.
It’s one of the perks of being a three-year player on Lambert’s baseball team. It’s also a benefit allotted to the quickest player on the team – and perhaps in the entire county.
So, when Brosius took his secondary lead off third base Friday night against South Forsyth, he waited for his cue.
Lambert’s leadoff hitter timed the exchange from catcher back to pitcher, then put his head down and sprinted home, swiping home on a delayed steal to give Lambert its first run of the game.
"I was expecting it,” Brosius said. “If I saw the ball go up, I was going to go."
Lambert never lost the lead, as the Longhorns received 5 1/3 innings of one-hit ball from Colin Linder, a pair of RBIs from Jack Stewart and Will Nelson, and remained perfect in region play with a 3-1 win against South.
"I feel like the whole ballclub played an awesome game," Lambert coach Rick Howard said. "Obviously, our guys threw well, and I thought their guys threw exceptionally well also. Both teams played great defense. It just came down to situational stuff. We capitalized tonight, and hopefully, we we can continue that."
Lambert and South were locked in a pitcher's duel, with the two teams combining for just two hits through the first six innings.
For Lambert, it was expected. Linder was marvelous in his last outing, striking out 10 in a 6-1 win against Norcross.
For South, it was anything but scripted.
Starting pitcher Conor Finegan left the game with arm discomfort after throwing just four pitches.
Dylan Quintilio threw a couple of warmup pitches in the bullpen, then was thrust into the spotlight of Friday's rivalry game.
He didn't leave the game until the seventh inning. By then, Quintilio had piled up seven strikeouts and surrendered only two hits.
"Man, that is one difficult environment to come out in," South coach Russ Bayer said. "A great, amazing crowd and great environment to play in, but a little nerve-wracking when he's not anticipating really even throwing tonight. The fact that he came out and did exactly what we needed him to do — he pounded the zone and went after those guys — it gave us a chance to win. I mean, that's super, super exciting and super, super impressive, especially for only a junior."
Quintilio issued a pair of walks to open his outing, then settled in. From the second inning through the fifth inning, Quintilio struck out half the batters he faced, including a perfect fourth inning where he struck out the side.
Bayer didn't plan to use Quintilio as his first option out of the bullpen, but knew the junior was rested and available.
Quintilio did issue four walks, including two to Brosius, who reached base three times.
Brosius swiped second then advanced to third on an error by Quintilio to set up his first-inning run. It was the first of three steals for Brosius.
"That's just him being him," Howard said. "He's in his third year with the varsity as a junior and we've worked on a lot of stuff. He's worked his tail off to create those opportunities. Yeah, he's got a lot more freedom than most people."
Brosius also scored Lambert's second run in the sixth inning. After reaching base on catcher's interference, Stewart sent a sacrifice fly into left field to score Brosius.
South answered in the next frame with a sacrifice fly of its own, as Tyler Nelson scored Brennan Hudson.
Lambert added another in the top of the seventh, when Nelson's bases-loaded single scored a run.
South rallied in the bottom of the seventh, getting a one-out double from Alex Urias and a hit batsmen from Gehrig Frei, but Jack D'Amico sent a line drive to Lambert second baseman Jack Schaeffer, who flipped to Jonny Smith to complete the game-ending double play.
"The fact that they can come out and perform, play well, and play clean baseball in a big environment early on, that's a great thing," Bayer said. "There's 18 region games. I'd be willing to bet money that Lambert's going to be at the top end of the region to begin with, so we know we can play with anybody in this region, and the fact of what we did tonight, I think there's a lot to be proud of."
Linder earned the win for Lambert and left with one out in the sixth inning.
Nate Dvorsky walked the first batter he faced but struck out Mitch Thompson with a high fastball to strand the runner at third base.
Dvorsky pitched 1 2/3 innings and struck out two to earn the save.
Lambert (9-4, 3-0 Region 6-7A) will host South (8-4, 0-1 Region 6-7A) at 6:15 p.m. Monday.
"Starting 3-0 in region is huge for us, especially with this rivalry," Brosius said. "These games are always hyped up so much more than all the other ones."