As Seth Beer closed his glove to record the final out of Lambert’s 9-3 win over Johns Creek on Wednesday, what has been expected for some time became an actuality: the Longhorns are Region 6-AAAAAA champions.
That was predictable. The reaction? Not so much.
Rather than jump up and down, yell or celebrate in any manner, the Longhorns quietly shook hands with their opponent, laid their equipment down by the dugout and began cleaning the field.
“I think it says a lot that we won the region championship and our guys didn’t even pile up,” Lambert head coach Jamie Corr said of his team’s subdued response. “That shows that they have a bigger goal in mind, and we’re going to keep working hard to try to achieve it.”
That bigger goal would be a state championship. With a perfect 25-0 record and 13-0 mark in region play, they figure to be one of the favorites (if not the favorite) heading into the Class AAAAAA tournament.
“It feels great to win the region,” said Longhorns sophomore Seth Beer. “This team has been working really hard, and we couldn’t do it without every person in there. We have more goals, and we try to go out there and treat every game the same way.”
Lambert’s pitching was nothing short of fantastic, surrendering a combined four hits and one walk. Dylan Biumi went five strong innings, and Thomas Kubiak closed the door in the final two.
On average, the Longhorns faced less than 4 1/2 batters per inning.
“The pitchers have a lot of confidence in the defense,” Corr added. “They pound the zone with every pitch they call.”
The Longhorns drew first blood courtesy of a Kyle McCann RBI single, but the Gladiators quickly jumped ahead with three-run third inning. Two of those runs were unearned, as Lambert committed some untimely and uncharacteristic errors.
But Beer evened the score homer in the bottom of the third, clearing the right field fence with a towering two-run homer. What appeared to be a routine fly ball kept carrying and carrying until it was out of sight.
“I just squared the ball up,” Beer said. “I guess the wind helped me out. I’ll take that any day.”
With the game tied at three, the Longhorns pushed ahead with a four-run fifth, capped by an Ian Kimbrell single that plated Parker Skruggs.
And despite some sloppy play in the field early on, Lambert clamped down in the later innings and stymied a potent Johns Creek offense. The Gladiators registered just one hit after their three-run outburst in the third, with only one runner reaching second base in that span.
“That speaks a lot to a senior-led team, because even when they make a couple blunders in the field, they know they can bounce right back as long as we can continue to throw strikes and make the next routine play,” Corr added. “We had a lot of quality at-bats down the stretch of that game that really proved pivotal and allowed us to break it open a little bit.”
Lambert will close out its regular season slate against Chattahoochee on Thursday. A win against the Cougars would give the Longhorns a perfect record heading into the playoffs.