By Mike Talbert
Ricky Lambert picked the right day to throw his second no-hitter of the season.
His Braves were facing the Itawamba AHS Indians and one of the best area pitchers Jamie Rock. And Rock was on, with 13 strikeouts and no walks, but he lost 2-1.
Lambert said when he warmed up for the game he was feeling a little sore. He showed it by giving up an unearned run in the the first inning. But he toughened up until the the seventh inning when he gave up a pair of walks. He walked off the field when center fielder Casey Kirk chased down a long fly in the gap.
“I like my defense. They back me up pretty good,” Lambert said. “The outfield really helps me a lot in the gaps, running balls down.”
That was the first of three straight Division 1-4A wins in three days as the Braves took sole control of first place in the division with a 5-0 mark.
The Braves are a deep team with good balance, with three solid pitchers, Lambert (3-0), Blake Holly (3-1) and Mario Barnes (3-0). Also they have four solid hitters in Lambert (.598), Holly (.548) Jake Glover (.490) and clean-up hitter Aaron Foster, who hit four grand slam homers last season.
Tish coach Jerry Long compares Lambert to another former Tishomingo County hitter-pitcher Richy Harrleson, now a third baseman at Ole Miss.
“He’s pretty equal to Harrelson, except Richy worked harder. But Ricky is a hitter, a good left handed hitter,” Long said. “When he is patient and picks one pitch to hit he can hit it as hard as anyone I’ve coached.”
But the glue of the team for Long is Holly, who is a shortstop when not pitching.
“When he comes out here you get a whole day’s work out of him. His attitude will get him a long way,” Long said.
Holly looks at this year’s team as one with a goal to advance farther in the playoffs, which will take a major doing. The team that put them out in the second round of the playoffs last season, New Hope, is 16-0.
Holly said the Braves’ depth is more than just a collection of talent. These players know how to play together.
“Really, this team has played together all our lives,” Holly said. “We don’t look for one person to do all the work.”