When it comes to the playoffs, every run that is handed to you is a valuable gift.
In Lambert’s two home games against Lakeside-Dekalb on Friday night, they were gifted run-after-run and opportunity-after-opportunity.
In Game 1, the opportunity came with bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth inning, leading to a 5-4 win. In Game 2, it was in the fourth inning where Lakeside-Dekalb’s mistakes led to five runs, and an eventual final score of 6-0.
The evening kicked off with Lakeside-Dekalb grabbing an early lead. Lakeside-Dekalb found success at the plate against Lambert’s starting pitcher Zach Keenan. In the top of the second inning, Keenan allowed three hits, two of them eventually scoring thanks to a wild pitch that put them in scoring position.
Lambert’s offense responded immediately. Jack Flemming led off the bottom of the second with a double, and Chris West followed with a single. Cooper McCann knocked in Flemming, and West scored on an error, tying the game back at two.
Lambert allowed two more to cross before entering the bottom of the sixth. Lambert managed to load the bases via one hit, one hit-by-pitch and one intentional walk.
With two outs, West stepped up to the plate.
“I went up there and just took a deep breath,” West said. “I waited for something in my zone and I barreled it up.”
The ball rode along the first base line before skipping into the back-right corner of the wall, allowing West to race around to third and give Lambert a 5-4 lead.
Peyton McPherson closed the game on the mound for Lambert where he ended the game with three straight strikeouts.
“It’s a big deal [to have a great closer],” Lambert head coach Rick Howard said. “He’s been like that pretty much all year, and it’s huge knowing you can go to your pen.”
The drama of the first game did not carry over into the second. Aidan McAllister took the mound for Lambert where he quickly established his rhythm. He dominated the same offense that had eight hits in the previous game. McAllister went for all seven innings, allowing just two hits while striking out eight batters.
“He does a great job of throwing three pitches and keeping guys off balance,” Howard said. “Aidan really played his game tonight.”
Five of Lambert’s runs came in the fourth inning where Lakeside-Dekalb’s mistakes shadowed Lambert’s offensive production. In the inning, the Longhorns had no hits but had seven base runners. Lakeside-Dekalb committed three errors, allowed three walks, had a hit-by-pitch and two wild pitches in the inning.
“You have to capitalize on the gifts you get,” Howard said, “and tonight we were able to do that.”
Lambert added one more run in the top of the seventh inning after loading the bases again. This time, Josh McAllister got plunked, adding the sixth unearned run of the game.
Lambert will go on to play the winner of Lowndes-North Paulding.