Last season's state runner-up, Milton, got revenge Saturday afternoon, defeating Lambert 5-3 after a four-run sixth inning to take the rubber match and the series in the first round of the state playoffs. In a series that was a rematch of the 2014 championship, won by Lambert, the Eagles won the final two games after falling 9-4 in Game 1 on Friday.
Lambert led 3-1 through five innings, and short innings for starting pitcher Seth Beer seemingly had put the pace of the game in the Longhorns' favor, but Beer allowed six of his 12 hits and, consequently, four runs in the second-to-last frame before being pulled in favor of reliever Zach Graverno.
In the following frame, Lambert looked poise to fight back when Jeremy Johnson reached first after getting hit by a pitch, but he and fellow senior J.D. Dutka were doubled up after Dutka's rocket shot to second base was snagged out of the air.
Lambert also nearly broke the game open in its favor in the bottom of the fourth when Will Dunavant just missed a grand slam with Darius Foster, Beer and Ian Kimbrell on the bags.
“A lot of things went their way,” Lambert coach Drew Ferrer said. “We hit balls deep and they made plays. They played small ball and did a good job of that, and it seemed like everything just fell for them, but we left a lot of runners on base today.”
Lambert had five walks and seven hits, and took the 3-1 lead in the bottom of the third when Beer scored off a single from Dunavant after hitting his fourth double in the series. Dutka brought home Johnson for the game's first run on a fielder's choice, while Nick Guimbarda scored the second run off a wild pitch.
Ferrer, who filled in as interim head coach in 2015 after Jamie Corr left to start the baseball program at Florida Southwestern State College, shared hugs with his seniors and assistants following the contest.
“Unfortunately when you don't reach a goal and you've got to say goodbye to a lot of kids it's very difficult,” Ferrer said. “It was more about how proud we were of the season we had and how proud we are of the seniors who helped get us to this level. When you have a season like we did last year, I think they put Lambert baseball on the map. You see how (Milton) celebrated because they beat us. It makes you appreciate your seniors much more for what they've done and created here at this school. And we let the seniors talk a little bit and they talked to the younger players and issued that challenge to continue this legacy and work towards something big.”
Milton's winning pitcher was Milan Sutario, who pitched five innings, allowing just five hits, after Charlie Estes and Ian Concevitch combined for two innings of work.
Milton's Drew Hamrock had two RBIs on the go-ahead single in the sixth. The Eagles will advance to face Kennesaw Mountain in the second round of the state playoffs.