After falling to Lambert back on March 28, West Forsyth’s baseball team knew the keys to exacting revenge on Wednesday: prevent the Longhorns from exploding with a big inning, and capitalize on prime opportunities.
The Wolverines certainly did the former — surrendering no more than two runs in any frame — but failed to do the latter, stranding seven runners in the final three innings. After scoring two runs in the seventh Lambert’s lead was cut to four, giving West some life. Yet despite loading the bases, the Wolverines (11-6, 3-4) failed to bring another runner home, giving the Longhorns (19-0, 7-0) an 8-4 victory in a Region 6-AAAAAA game.
“I think both teams left a lot of runners on base tonight,” said Lambert head coach Jamie Corr. “Neither team delivered the knockout blow, but our hitters made adjustments and found a way to get the job done.”
Jeremy Johnson got Lambert’s offense rolling out of the gate, slapping a lead-off double to right-center in the bottom of the first. Jake Chickowski walked several at-bats later, and a pair of singles from Ian Kimbrell and Kyle McCann brought Johnson and Chickowski home.
“I always put myself in a position for our team to do well, that’s what I try to do,” Johnson said, who finished the night 3-for-5 with two runs scored. “First at-bat of the game, I think that’s one of the most important at-bats because it sets the tone for the game.”
Johnson then led off the second inning with a base hit, which was followed by a double from JD Dutka. Both scored on a Tucker Maxwell double and a West error.
Dutka’s 1-for-3 effort at the dish played a big role in Lambert’s win, but his performance on the mound was what made the difference. The junior side-armer tossed five shutout innings, giving up only two hits in the process. That first hit didn’t come until the fifth.
“JD did a great job of pitching out of some trouble early,” said Corr. “He battled without his best stuff and relied on his defense to get him out of several jams.”
That defense was a huge factor for the Longhorns. While they committed a couple errors and made a few mental mistakes, the Lambert defense more than compensated for that damage.
Seth Beer kept the shutout alive in the second by gunning down a runner at home after a fly out to right—firing a perfect throw to the plate. A dazzling double-play, initiated by shortstop Trey Logan was arguably the highlight of the night.
“We’ve just been shaking our head for three years watching Trey Logan do that here,” Corr added. “Our pitchers have a lot of confidence throwing ground balls his way.”
Alec Wilson had a good night for West, going 2-for-3 with a double and two runs scored — one of which broke the shutout. Junior Hampton McConnell snapped Dutka’s no-hitter and later scored after walking in the seventh.
To the Wolverines’ credit, they only struck out three times all day. West was getting the bat on the ball, it just couldn’t string together enough hits in a row to compete with Lambert’s elite offense.
The Longhorns’ win keeps them undefeated on the year and atop the USA Today Super 25 ranking as the No. 1 high school team in the country. They’ll return to action on Friday against South Forsyth.
West, which has now lost five of its last six, will attempt to rebound on Friday at home against North Forsyth.