In a game that lasted just over an hour, Lambert managed to snap rival North Forsyth's six-game winning streak with a 4-0 shutout of the Raiders Wednesday evening at home.
Lambert (13-4, 10-1 Region 6-AAAAAA) moved itself into sole possession of first place in the region thanks to a complete game from starting pitcher Zach Graveno. With a Middle Tennessee State scout pointing a radar at him all night, Graveno scattered seven hits while striking out seven and allowing just one walk.
North (12-5, 8-3) outhit the Longhorns, 7-6, but couldn't string together production, often offsetting singles with strikeouts and missed opportunities.
The Raiders had a chance to strike late after Cory Campbell and Parker Enright singled in consecutive at-bats in the top of the sixth inning, but Graveno was able to shut down the next two batters and set up his finish on the mound.
Still, Lambert head coach Rick Howard thought his pitcher had seen better days.
“He'd probably tell you he didn't have his best stuff tonight,” Howard said. “There were some things that kind of threw him out of rhythm, maybe his curveball wasn't breaking as much, but he did a really good job of working through that.”
Lambert has now allowed just 14 runs in 11 region games, by far the best scoring defense in the region.
“Our defense behind our starting pitching has been phenomenal,” Howard said.
Lambert jumped on North starting pitcher Tyler Fairchild in the first inning, as Josh McAllister, Kyle McCann and Jake Tomelevage reached on a single, walk, and single, respectively. Charles Quire entered to pinch run for McCann, and all three runners scored as McAllister came home on a bases-loaded walk and the other two scored off an RBI single from Daniel Mickelson.
McAllister got an RBI in the fifth that scored Jarrett Wright to make the score 4-0.
Fairchild finished with a strong effort, allowing six hits, three walks and striking out two in six innings of work. He was as strong as his counterpart through the final five frames.
A bright spot for North was Kyle Martin, who finished 3 for 3 at the plate from the eight hole, including a double in the final inning.
North head coach Jim Cahill hopes Friday's home rematch will produce different results and move the Raiders back into the middle of a tough playoff race. They're currently the fifth team in the region standings, just a half game behind West Forsyth.
“We outhit them, put the ball in play, but we had too many of those moments followed by strikeouts,” Cahill said. “We've got to do a better job in two strike situations. That's where they got their runs.”
Lambert will face North in the rubber match at 5:55 p.m. Friday at Coal Mountain.