Lambert starting pitcher Cole Varner only faced more than one batter in one of his six innings on the mound Monday evening as the Longhorns cruised past rival West Forsyth, 9-2, on the road, handing the Wolverines their first region loss.
Varner finished with just two hits allowed, six strikeouts and no walked batters, while Alex Todd entered in the final frame and survived a rally attempt from the Wolverines (8-5, 6-1) to close out the contest.
Lambert (7-4, 4-1) also had its offense cooking, finishing with multiple hits in five of seven frames. Leadoff hitter Jarrett Wright and three-hole bomber Kyle McCann did the most damage. Wright finished 3 for 4 with two RBIs and two runs scored, while McCann put himself a triple away from the cycle when he homered, bringing Wright home, in the top of the sixth. McCann finished 3 for 3 with the home run and a double, three RBIs and two runs scored.
The Longhorns finished with 12 hits, something head coach Rick Howard said the team was working on as they tried to bounce back from a series split over the weekend against Alpharetta.
“I'm proud of our kids,” Howard said. “There's some things we've been working on in practice that we saw today. Twelve hits is good, but most of the credit goes to Cole Varner. He threw outstanding, exactly the way I heard he threw last year, and really how he's pitched in his last four outings. He competes, he wants the baseball and knows how to pitch effectively.”
West trailed 9-0 heading into its final at-bat, but managed to send eight batters to the plate in the seventh. Briar Hawkins and Mason McWhorter each singled and scored off a Thomas Arundale RBI-double, then loaded the bags before it fizzled with three-straight outs.
West head coach Mike Pruitt wasn't happy that his team took so long to settle in at the plate.
“To me, it looked like they were scared to swing it out there,” Pruitt said. “I told them to stand up there and not swing if they wanted to, but it wasn't going to help them. The difference in this game was the aggressiveness of their hitters and the lack of aggressiveness from us.”
Lambert took a 1-0 lead in the first when McCann's double brought Wright home. Josh McAllister and McCann scored off RBIs from Jake Tomelevage and Michael Raiano, respectivecly, in the third to make the score 3-0. Lambert then scored two in the fourth, two in the sixth and two in the seventh to pull away.
McAllister, Daniel Mickelson, Harrison LeBlanc and Bobby Gabriel all scored runs for the Longhorns.
West used the combination of Ryan Ferguson, Zack Burns and Tanner Chafin to relief starting pitcher Hank Flood, who finished with seven hits, five strikeouts and three walks allowed in 3 and 2/3 innings pitched.
West will look to bounce back and tie the series Wednesday at Lambert. First pitch is set for 5:55 p.m.