Walton at Lambert
When, where: Tuesday, 4:30 and 7:30 p.m.; Wednesday, 6:30 p.m., if necessary.
Records, rankings, seedings: Walton is 26-4, ranked No. 1 in Class AAAAAA and the No. 2 seed from Region 5-AAAAAA; Lambert is 25-6, ranked No. 6 and the No. 1 seed from Region 6.
What to know: Lambert is in the state quarterfinals for the second time in program history and first since its 2014 state championship run after a swift sweep of Lakeside-DeKalb this past Wednesday. The series was finished off, fittingly enough, on a no-hitter by ace pitcher Zach Graveno. The senior enters with a 10-0 record and a microscopic 0.12 ERA in 60 2/3 innings. Graveno, Turner Scruggs and Cole Varner have formed a formidable pitching staff, perfect for an offense led by Jarrett Wright, Josh McAllister, Kyle McCann and others that lacks power but makes up for it with quality at-bats up and down the lineup.
Walton, meanwhile, is certain to be on a mission to return to the state championship after getting swept by Parkview in the finals last season to miss out on its third state title in school history and first since 2007. The Raiders are led on the mound by ace Zac Kristofak, a University of Georgia signee, and at the plate by shortstop Carter Kieboom, an Under Armour All-American who has signed with Clemson but is expected to be a first- or second-round pick in next month’s MLB Draft. Junior outfielders Michael Guldberg and Jason Rooks are both verbally committed to Georgia Tech. There’s plenty of talent on the Raiders’ roster for Lambert to deal with.
What’s next: Will play the winner of Etowah-Norcross in the semifinals.