With their ace in a zone and their big bats heating up, the Lambert Longhorns are starting to get that look again.
Two years after winning the state championship, Lambert’s headed back to the state quarterfinals after an impressive two-game sweep over Lakeside-DeKalb on Wednesday at the Longhorns’ field.
Senior ace Zach Graveno threw a five-inning no-hitter, Kyle McCann hit a home run and Josh McAllister had three doubles, leading Lambert to 2-1 and 10-0 wins.
The Longhorns will host Walton in the quarterfinals, which will begin Tuesday.
“It helps that we get a little rest now,” Lambert coach Rick Howard said. “We’ll take advantage of that and get our legs up under us a little bit and then focus on some things that we want to continue doing well and some things that we want to tighten up a little bit.”
Graveno made quick work of the Vikings in Game 2, striking out five with no walks. Two hit batsmen were his only blemishes in a masterpiece. Graveno improved to 10-0 with an ERA under one.
“Yes, without a doubt, that’s the best he’s thrown,” Howard said of Graveno.
Joseph DiBenedetto and Jake Tomelevage each had two-run doubles, fueling the five-inning run-rule in Game 2.
Game 1 was much tighter. McCann hit a first-inning two-run home run that needed every bit of a gusty wind to sneak over the right-field fence and later helped turn a dramatic double play that prevented the tying run from scoring and got the Longhorns out of a late-inning jam.
With Lambert clinging to a one-run lead in the top of the sixth, Lakeside had the tying run on second with one out. The Vikings’ Kiernan Acklin singled to left field. Lambert left fielder Daniel Mickelson threw home. Acklin attempted to take second after Mickelson’s throw bypassed the cut-off man. McCann fired to second baseman Parker Scruggs, who tagged out Acklin, spun around and threw back home to McCann, who tagged out the runner at home, ending the inning and keeping the Longhorns in front 2-1.
“Parker throws a missile right to me and I tag him out,” McCann said about the momentum-shifting 7-2-4-2 double play.
“That sparked us. It kind of got our intensity going, which is something we really didn’t have early in the first game,” Howard added.
Senior righthander Alex Todd pitched a perfect seventh to nail down a Game 1 victory.
Starter Cole Varner went five innings, allowing only one run on two hits with five strikeouts and three walks. Varner was on cruise control into the fifth inning, but lost his command. All three of his walks came in the fifth, and the Longhorns botched a run-down that allowed Lakeside’s Nolan Wilson to scramble home for the Vikings’ only run.