All it took was for Jack Flemming to get his barrel around on the ball to change the narrative of Lambert’s Friday night region showdown against North Forsyth.
In extra innings, Flemming roped a ball over the right fielder’s head to start a rally that gave Lambert the five runs it needed to beat North, 5-3.
Lambert (10-8, 5-1) had a little bit of luck leading up to extra innings. After a first inning that featured a bases-loaded situation that resulted in no runs, the Longhorns capitalized on two errors in the second inning.
The first error allowed Brady Burroughs on base, which was followed by a single by Bobby Gabriel, putting arguably the team’s fastest runners on base. Josh McAllister knocked in Burroughs and the second error allowed Gabriel to score, giving Lambert a 2-0 lead in the second inning.
Despite the errors, North’s (8-10, 1-5) starting pitcher Brice Davis gave Lambert fits all night. After the first two innings, he allowed just four hits and no runs. North used the stellar pitching to keep the game close, and in the second inning Clayton Bardall cut the lead in half with a solo-home run.
Lambert starting pitcher Cameron Smith was ready for a pitching duel. Smith allowed only six total hits on the night in his 5 1/3 innings of work.
North knotted the game up in the sixth inning when Bardall’s single led to Gabriel bobbing the ball on the exchange, allowing Colin Sanders to cross the plate.
They were headed to extras.
The game finally broke open when in the top of the eigth when Lambert’s Will Gabbert plopped a ball into right field. After two straight outs, Flemming stepped up to the plate, waiting for his pitch.
“The kid threw me a fastball inside, and I was just trying to get my hands through and make solid contact,” Flemming said. “I barreled it up, and it felt pretty good.”
The ball flew over the right fielder’s head which allowed Gabbert to score from first base to give Lambert a 3-2 lead. Flemming slid into second base and let out a scream of excitement.
“I was pretty excited,” Flemming said. “I’m not really an emotional guy, but I got pretty excited there.”
Colin Price stepped up to the plate next where his ball found some space in right field, allowing Flemming to score. Cooper McCann followed the familiar trend, and the game was 5-2.
Evan Johnson didn’t let the Raiders go down easily. To lead off the bottom of the eighth, Johnson torched a ball to center field to make the game 5-3. Pitcher Zach Keenan went on to force two groundballs and strikeout the final batter of the game.
“To their credit, they hung in there,” Lambert head coach Rick Howard said. “It was a great played ballgame.”