After a convincing 8-1 win against Luella in Game 1 of the Class AAAAAA baseball quarterfinals, Lambert found itself in a too-close-for-comfort matchup in Game 2, in which the Luella Lions refused to let their poor performance earlier in the day keep them down. By the end of the third, Luella shrunk Lambert’s lead to one and had all the momentum on their side.
It only took a couple swings of the bat to deflate all the energy Luella created.
Lambert’s Jake Chickowski stepped up to the plate in the top of the fourth and launched a fastball well over the right field fence. Tucker Maxwell followed with a solo shot of his own, and Ian Kimbrell scored shortly thereafter courtesy of an Eric Furphy double.
Luella would score a single run its next time up, but that would be it. The Longhorns would earn the sweep with a 10-6 victory, punching a ticket to the state semifinals. They’ll take on Parkview on Monday with a trip to the finals on the line.
“That’s a great team,” Lambert head coach Jamie Corr said of Luella. “In the fourth, they definitely had the momentum. But to lead off the inning with back-to-back (home runs), that just took the wind out of their sails.”
Ultimately, Luella’s downfall wasn’t the back-to-back homers, but rather a costly error in the third that led to a five-run outburst from Lambert. With two outs in the third, Kimbrell hit a towering fly ball to centerfield, but a lack of communication among Luella outfielders allowed the ball to drop cleanly, clearing the bases.
Two more scored that inning to put Lambert up 7-3.
Beating a team as talented as Lambert is a difficult task in and of itself; doing so while making costly mental mistakes is nearly impossible. The Lions learned that the hard way.
“I thought we did a good job capitalizing on their mistakes,” said Corr. “Sometimes that’s what you have to do to beat a good ball club.”
Lambert was able to cruise in Game 1 thanks to a strong outing from starting pitcher Dylan Biumi, who tossed all seven innings and allowed just five hits. Biumi didn’t record any strikeouts, but his ability to keep the ball low and change speeds with three different pitches prevented Luella from making good contact.
In total, Biumi induced 13 ground ball outs, including every out in the first three innings.
“I don’t worry about striking anyone out; my defense does all the work,” Biumi said. “We have the best infield in the state. Nothing gets by them, so I just rely on them.”
JD Dutka got the start in Game 2 and lasted four innings. The junior righty surrendered six runs on nine hits. Turner Scruggs came out of the bullpen and gave Lambert three scoreless innings to close out the series, allowing just two total base runners.
In addition to Chickowski and Kimbrell, sophomore Seth Beer had another great night with four hits, including two doubles and a home run.
“We don’t have to rely on the long ball,” Biumi said, “but when we do, it really gets us fired up. When our bats are going we can really play our game, and that’s what we got tonight.”