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Baseball: Horns give Max-imum effort in region opener
Lambert senior drives in seven runs in win
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Lambert senior Joe Vonderschmidt delivers a pitch against Alpharetta on Wednesday. - photo by Jared Putnam

Brock Maxwell’s frustration with his slow start to the 2013 season reached a boiling point Tuesday night.

The South Carolina signee was so upset after striking out in his final at-bat of Lambert’s 5-3 loss at North Gwinnett that he drove to the Longhorns’ field after the game and spent two hours by himself hitting off a tee.

The extra swings and adjustments Maxwell made seemed to pay off in a big way less than 24 hours later.

Maxwell went 4-for-4 with seven RBIs, including a 3-run home run, as the Longhorns cruised to a 10-1 victory over Alpharetta in the Region 6-AAAAAA opener on Wednesday at Lambert.

"I was struggling until this game. I haven’t had more than about one hit [each] game," Maxwell said.

"I was here until about 10 [last night] hitting ... I was so upset with myself. I tried to fix everything, make everything [in my swing] shorter. I think Coach [Jamie] Corr helped out tremendously and everything just worked out."

Maxwell’s big night provided much more run support than Lambert (7-2, 1-0 region) needed thanks to a strong outing from starting pitcher Joe Vonderschmidt.

The senior right-hander didn’t record a single strikeout in the game, but held the Raiders (6-6, 0-1) scoreless until the sixth inning and allowed only four hits in a complete game performance.

Vonderschmidt used his sinker to induce a steady diet of weak grounders for his infielders all evening long.

"Joe is really seeing the results of offseason work," Corr said. "He really puts in his hours.

"Joe has done a great job this year of attacking hitters early in the count. He’s got a great defense behind him and he knows that if he keeps the ball in the white part of the plate, we’re going to make the plays."

Alpharetta’s defense didn’t have quite as many opportunities to work behind its pitchers.

Raiders starting right-hander Bryce Conley (1 1/3 IP, 2 K, 6 ER, 4 H, 4 BB) opened the game with consecutive walks to Jeremy Johnson and Danny Edgeworth before Ian Kimbrell reached on an infield single to load the bases.

Maxwell followed with a two-run single to right-center and advanced to second on an error. Billy Whitlock walked to load the bases again, and Eric Furphy boosted the lead to 3-0 with a single to left. The Longhorns tacked on a fourth run when Maxwell scored on a wild pitch.

Conley continued to struggle to find the strike zone in the second inning and issued leadoff walks to Johnson and Edgeworth once again. Kimbrell moved the runners over with a sacrifice bunt this time, setting up another two-run single by Maxwell.

Maxwell has typically batted in the No. 3 hole in Lambert’s lineup since his freshman season, but Corr moved him to the cleanup spot Wednesday to try to help him break out of his slump.

"Coach Corr said, ‘You know what, we’re going to switch things up this game, we’re going to put you in the four hole,’" Maxwell said. "He’s like, ‘Just go out and swing — do what you want.’"

Maxwell’s second hit prompted Alpharetta to replace Conley with sophomore right-hander Hayden McGill.

McGill had better luck against the Longhorns but still struggled to stop Furphy and Maxwell from driving in runs.

Maxwell delivered his third single of the night in the fourth inning and stole second base before scoring on Furphy’s second RBI single to increase the lead to 7-0.

Alpharetta found its lone run in the top of the sixth, after David Leith led off with a double and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Evan Troutt.

But any hopes the Raiders had of a late rally were crushed in the bottom of the frame when Maxwell capped off his night with a three-run home run over the right field fence.

"We came out here determined to set a tone," Maxwell said. "We all came out to hit, Joe came out and threw strikes, [and we all] did what we needed to win."