In a race against inclement weather, Lambert starting pitcher Turner Scruggs picked the right time to get the Longhorns back into their groove.
After Lambert and Mountain View split the first two games of the series on Friday night, Scruggs went to the mound and threw under 80 pitches—finishing a complete game in under two hours—as the Longhorns won 5-0 to advance to the second round of the Class AAAAAA state playoffs.
The Longhorns will host Lakeside-DeKalb in the second round, starting with a double-header on May 4.
Mountain View only made scoring threats in the first and seventh inning, but the game was never in much doubt after the Longhorns scored runs in the first, second and third, knocking out the Bears’ starting pitcher Cameron Hankins as Scruggs mastered his way through his work.
“Today was us playing our baseball,” Lambert head coach Rick Howard said. “That’s what we do. An hour and a half, hour forty five, we try to play short games. Turner threw an outstanding ball game and got runs when we needed them, so it was huge.”
Howard, in his first season as the Longhorns head coach after previously coaching at Brookwood, had familiarity with baseball in Gwinnett County. He knew the Bears would be a strong No. 4 seed.
“This was a huge win for us. They’re a really good ball club. They do a lot of things very well,” Howard said. “I don’t know if yesterday we felt 100 percent, but we got it together.”
Lambert struck when the game was its hottest—before rain clouds drifted into the area—as Jarrett Wright doubled to lead off the first and then scored on a bases-loaded walk. It appeared the Longhorns would blow the game open early, but a 1-2-3 double play helped Hankins escape.
Wright made more noise in the following frame, knocking a triple that bounced over the glove of the center fielder to bring home Parker Scruggs.
Griffin Jarrett would hit a SAC-fly to score Kyle McCann before hitting a solo home run in the third and fifth, respectively, and Michael Raiano singled to score Charles Quire in the seventh.
After falling 7-1 in the opening game of the series, the Longhorns outscored the Bears 8-1 in the last nine innings leading back to Game 2 late Friday night. Howard attributed his team’s turnaround to unselfish play, as many pivotal substitutions were made throughout the series.
“Every single guy on our team team believes in eachother, plays for eachother and plays team baseball. We had to make some big decisions this weekend, sub some guys here or there and we had guys willing to do that.”
Lakeside-DeKalb, a No. 2 seed, finished its regular season 21-7 and 12-3 in Region 2-AAAAAA play.