ALPHARETTA — Milton’s pitching was simply too much for Lambert.
The Eagles starting pitchers combined for 12 strikeouts and allowed only two earned runs in 12 2/3 innings pitched, as No. 1 seed Milton swept No. 2 seed Lambert 7-3, 9-2 on Thursday at Milton Field in the second round of the Class 6A state baseball playoffs.
“Their pitching was as good as advertised and their defense played really well behind them,” Lambert head coach Jamie Corr said. “We knew they were a pitching and defense ballclub and they only have to scratch across one or two [runs] with their pitching.”
Milton (22-7-1) struck first in Game 2, as Jack Thompson singled to left-center field and allowed Andrew Wood to score from second after Brock Maxwell wasn’t able to cleanly field the ball. Lambert’s Danny Edgeworth (3+ IP, 2 ER, 2 H, 1 K, 3 BB) worked his way out of the jam, but Milton found its groove at the plate in the fourth inning, plating six runs.
Following back-to-back walks to start the inning, Corr sent in Lambert (19-10) reliever Dylan Biumi. Dalon Farkas bunted down the third base line, but the throw to first by Biumi was off target and allowed a run to score. Nick Bradshaw then hit an RBI single to right field and a bunt single knocked in another run. Ryan Gridley added two more runs with a double to right before Lambert’s Clay Crosby came in to pitch.
Milton added another run on a groundout to make the score 7-0.
The Eagles added insurance runs in the fifth and sixth innings after Gridley was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and Alec Cease extended the lead to 9-0 after an RBI single.
“We’ve been talking all year about our approach [at the plate] and we did a really good job tonight going up there with a plan,” Milton head coach Joey Ray said. “We attacked the pitches we could get our bat on and we put ourselves in good situations. …We were just able to take advantage of a hit batter and walks.”
After two straight groundouts to Milton pitcher Dylan Cease (5 2/3 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 7 K, 1 BB) to start the sixth inning, Ray elected to change pitchers. The Longhorns jumped all over the new reliever, as Edgeworth drew a walk and Maxwell singled before Ian Kimbrell recorded an RBI hit to left-center. Eric Furphy walked to load the bases for Jake Chickowski, who was hit by a pitch to score Maxwell and closed the gap to 9-2, but Milton quelled the rally as Trey Logan flew out to center to end the inning.
The Eagles had no trouble taking Game 1 of the series.
Lambert scored the game’s first run on an RBI single up the middle to score Jeremy Johnson in the top of the first inning, but Milton answered in the bottom half of the frame.
Dylan Cease smashed the ball down the right field line for a triple to plate Sean Brophy and Thompson’s sacrifice fly to center brought Cease home to make the score 2-1.
Milton added one run in the third and fourth inning, but Lambert brought the game to within one in the fifth inning following Tucker Maxwell’s RBI single up the middle to score Logan off pitcher Payton Smith (7 IP, 2 ER, 8 H, 5 K, 2 BB). Johnson hit a grounder to the third baseman, who threw home in an attempt to get Nick Guimbarda, but his throw was off target and allowed the run to score.
The Eagles put the game out of reach in the bottom half of the frame, as Cease blasted a three-run home run off Lambert pitcher Joe Vonderschmidt (4 1/3 IP, 5 ER, 6 H, 1 K, 1 BB, 1 HBP) to widen the lead to 7-3.
Even with the loss, Corr was still proud of what the seniors had accomplished.
“Brock, Danny, Clay and Joe built this program,” Corr said. “Four state playoff appearances, one region championship and two sweet 16 [appearances]. They’ve really set the standard for what Lambert baseball is going to be about.”