Lambert baseball outlasted North Forsyth in 10 innings to win 5-4 on Monday night.
Lambert (14-11, 8-2 in Region 5-7A) got the game-winning run when Chris West’s sacrifice fly to center field scored Jack Fleming in the top of the 10th.
“Any time you win in extra innings it’s a big deal,” Lambert head coach Rick Howard said. “It is a very, very big deal, and we’ve done that twice here and we’ve been very fortunate.”
Josh McAllister got things started for the Longhorns with a leadoff homerun on the third pitch of the game.
Lambert got two more in the top of the second when Will Gabbert roped one into the gap for a two-run double, putting the Longhorns up 3-0.
But North (9-16, 1-9) battled back. After managing just one run on three hits in the fourth inning, the Raiders got something going again in the fifth. With two on and one out, Carter Mullikin cranked a three-run bomb over the center field wall, knotting the game up at 4.
“They fight. They’re tough kids,” North head coach Jim Cahill said. “They never quit. That’s something they’ve done all year long. We haven’t won as many games as we would’ve liked, but all our games are pretty close and we’ve had a chance to win‘em all.”
After giving up four runs in the first three innings, North’s Brody Westbrooks settled in and ended up pitching seven innings, giving up six hits, four runs, striking out six, and walking one.
But Payton McPherson was even stronger out of the bullpen for the Longhorns. After Zach Keenan pitched just 4 2/3 innings, McPherson pitched the final 5 1/3 innings, allowing zero hits, zero runs, striking out eight, and walking three (one intentional) to get the win.
“This is the second time (McPherson) has done this,” Howard said. “We had an extra-inning game with Milton that we unfortunately lost late. But that’s what he does, and he’s done an outstanding job. He’s somebody we can go to and know that he’s gonna go out and compete and throw strikes, and that’s what he did tonight.”
The Raiders had a chance to win it in the bottom of the ninth. Garrett Staton was at the plate with runners on first and second. After ball three, Mullikin, who was on first, appeared to think it was ball four and got caught walking off first base and was picked off to end the inning.
The win puts Lambert at 8-2 in the region, extending their first-place lead over Milton to two games after the Eagles lost, 9-0, to Forsyth Central.
“We gotta do a better job of taking opportunities and capitalizing,” Howard said. “But in the end, we did that when it counted, getting the sac-fly. You gotta be able to do those things in big-time ball games. This is a very big week for us, so we need to play well.”