Having lost five of its last six games, No. 4-ranked Lambert needed a spark to fuel a strong finish to the regular season.
Head coach Jamie Corr believes his team may have found it in a 10-0 romp over Centennial on Thursday at Lambert.
"Great to see the guys bounce back tonight and get a big region win, when we had to have it," Corr said. "The last week and a half, we’ve been snake-bit by some big home runs against us at bad times. But in no way did anyone on this team ever panic.
"We just preached stay the course, get your work in and come out and play as hard as you can. With baseball, it all evens out."
The five-inning, run-rule victory over the struggling Knights (3-20, 1-10 Region 6-AAAAAA) featured what Corr called the best performance of the season from starting pitcher Clay Crosby. Crosby allowed two hits in three scoreless innings and induced a double-play ball to get out of a jam in the third inning.
"We had a huge night for our program with Clay Crosby stepping up and taking charge on the mound," Corr said. "He’s a vital cog for our pitching staff. It’s great to see him have a good outing — his best outing of the season."
The Longhorns (15-7, 7-4) sent nine batters to the plate in the first inning. They scored five runs on one hit, two errors and several passed balls and wild pitches. All five runs scored with two outs off of Centennial starter Chase Meyer.
Jake Chickowski went 1-for-2 with three RBIs. Chickowski’s two-run double deep to center field highlighted a four-run second inning for the Longhorns.
Austin Loughmiller doubled in the third inning, and Brock Maxwell had an RBI groundout to push the margin to 10-0.
Alec Wantanabee and Brad Skuse had hits for Centennial, which had notched its first region win of the season Wednesday.
Centennial coach Jake Hill acknowledged his team’s struggles, but added that he was proud of how his kids remained focused on trying to improve. He pointed out solid seasons at the plate by seniors Jason Willoughby and Marcus Fitzhugh, who both entered the game hitting well over .300.
"Obviously, they’re down right down. We just lost 10-0," said Hill. "But we’re just going to keep trying to get better each day and have some fun the rest of the season."
The Longhorns, who have more freshmen and sophomores in their everyday lineup than upperclassmen, head into the final week of the regular season in second place, two games behind Johns Creek. Lambert plays at West Forsyth and Johns Creek next week.
"I think over the whole year, we’ve played very well for essentially being a 16-and-under travel team," Corr said.
Thursday’s game was originally scheduled for Friday, but was moved up in anticipation of inclement weather.