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Baseball: Lambert responds after tough loss to force Game 3
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Lambert third baseman Will Gabbert throws to first to get a Mountain View runner our Friday in the Longhorns' first round Class AAAAAA playoff series. - photo by Micah Green

By Michael Foster

For a while, a technical glitch at The Horn seemed all-too fitting.

Lambert's home scoreboard malfunctioned halfway through the first game of the Class AAAAAA first round series against Mountain View on Friday night, leaving many fans wondering just how many more outs the Longhorns had left to salvage their season.

After losing Game 1, 7-1, and falling behind 1-0 in Game 2, Lambert took to the plate not only facing a no-hitter, but elimination in the first round for the second year in a row.

Senior Parker Scruggs wanted to make sure his twin brother, Turner, the third hurler in the Longhorns' rotation, saw the mound one final time.

Parker broke up a potential no-hitter with a single, scoring Bobby Gabriel from second, then came home off a hit from Kyle McCann to give the Longhorns the lead in the top of the fifth. Fellow senior Jarrett Wright added insurance in the seventh, and Lambert forced a deciding Game 3 with a 3-1 victory.

Turner Scruggs will take the mound Saturday at noon with a chance to help Lambert advance in the postseason for the first time under first-year head coach Rick Howard. Howard knew his team, which dominated the Region 6-AAAAAA standings for the entire season, had not had its backs against the wall all year. He was pleased with how his team finally responded.

“I've been waiting to see how we handle that,” Howard said. “The situation had not presented itself but it did tonight. It's hard to lose the first game 7-1. That's hard to swallow. I don't know when we let go of it but we finally did. The kids just kept plugging. Tonight was awesome.”

Jake Tomelevage was the batter to send Wright home on a single in the seventh.

Zach Graveno finished with a complete game for the Longhorns in Game 2, striking out five while allowing five hits and three walks. The Bears had a chance to take the lead back in the bottom of the fifth with runners on second and third, but a controversial strikeout of Robert Kwiatkowski closed the frame.

Kwiatkowski held the no-hitter, despite four walks, into a third of the way through the fifth when he was pulled in favor of his bullpen. Mountain View was also without head coach Jason Johnson after he was thrown out for arguing Scruggs' run, claiming he missed the plate.

Graveno did not have an earned run, as the Bears scored their lone run of Game 2 when Chandler Powell scored from third off a throwing error by McCann.

Lambert's struggles in Game 1 were uncharacteristic. Ace Cole Varner, entering the game with an ERA under 1.00, had trouble with his control from the start and lasted four innings, allowing five hits and five walks against three strikeouts. The Longhorns also used Brandon Thomas, Johnny Oakes and Nick Keenan out of the bullpen.

Mountain View's Samuel Freitas was a force in the first contest, going 2 for 4 with a double and four RBI, while Powell had three runs scored.