WATCH NOW: Lambert, Humphreys lead Falcons to 3D title | Sports News

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Jun 9, 2022 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

ABINGDON, Va. – Just over one year ago, Abingdon Falcons baseball player Cole Lambert nearly saw his time as a prep athlete end at Falcon Park.

The catcher was chasing a ball behind home plate when he slid into a brick wall and fractured the femur in his left leg.

“The doctors told me there was no way I would be able to make it back for football season and that I would likely miss most of baseball season,” Lambert said.

Following two surgeries and countless hours of grueling rehab, Lambert added another chapter to his made-for Disney inspirational story at Falcon Park.

The 6-foot-1, 190-pound senior allowed just five hits and recorded six strikeouts over five innings as the Falcons earned a 3-1 win over the Christiansburg Blue Demons in the Region 3D championship at Falcon Park.

Abingdon (23-2) will host Spotswood in the VHSL Class 3 quarterfinals Tuesday at 6, while Christiansburg (22-3) must travel to Liberty Christian Academy. LCA needed just five innings Friday to defeat Spotswood 13-0 for the Region 3C title.

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Has Lambert blocked out his nightmarish injury, which unfolded in a Mountain 7 District tournament matchup against John Battle?

“No, I think about that night all the time and it’s definitely motivation,” Lambert said. “I don’t take any opportunity for granted.”

Freshman Jett Humphreys gave Lambert all the offense he would need in the first inning with a two-run home run off a fastball.

Christiansburg, which collected eight hits, scored in the second inning and mounted several threats before Lambert worked out of trouble.

“We were hoping to get 2-3 innings out of Cole,” AHS coach Mark Francisco said. “For Cole to throw like he did for five innings is just amazing.”

Lambert wasn’t even able to run in the first half of baseball season after recovering from his second surgery in January.

“We pitched Cole a lot in our early games, but because his leg wasn’t 100% we were putting stress on his arm,” Francisco said. “When you consider how this kid fought back from his injury and therapy, this is one of the happiest and proudest moments of my career.”

Humphreys was the other hero for AHS. After adding a run-scoring single in the fifth inning, Humphreys replaced Lambert on the mound in the sixth inning and did not allow a run.

The Blue Demons rallied in the seventh with two line singles and had runners on first and third base with two outs. Facing the No. 5 batter in the Christiansburg lineup, Humphreys sealed the win with his third strikeout.

Most freshmen would be nervous in such a high stakes setting, but the powerful 5-11 Humphreys is not the average freshman.

“No nerves,” Humphreys said. “I just get in there and do my thing no matter how big the spot is. You can’t let pressure get in your head.”

Humphreys, who competes with the elite Canes National travel ball team from June to August, had extra incentive Friday.

“I wanted to get the save for Cole,” Humphreys said. “It’s amazing what Cole has done this year. I love that guy.”

Second baseman Jack Ferguson and junior Ethan Gibson at shortstop displayed sure hands and strong arms to convert several difficult putouts for AHS.

Colten McGrady and Marshall Basham led the Blue Demons with two hits apiece, while pitchers Dawson Gragg and Mason Self combined on a five-hitter.

“Great ballgame,” Christiansburg coach Dale Nelson said. “We had runners on in about every inning, but the Abingdon pitchers located well and we just couldn’t get that big hit at the end.”

Nelson, who played baseball at Averett University, said this was the first time in close to 20 years that the Blue Demons appeared in a regional baseball championship.

“And this was our first berth in the state tournament,” Nelson said. “We’re excited about what this group has accomplished and playing in this environment is good for us. Anytime a team comes to Abingdon, the environment is going to be good.”

Francisco struggled to hold back his emotions when asked about the tenacity of Lambert.

“I’ve been coaching for over 20 years and I’ve never seen anything like the heart and determination Cole has shown,” Francisco said. “Cole is just a winner, and he showed it again tonight against a great hitting team that has several future college stars.”

Lambert, who posted big numbers as the quarterback for the AHS football team in the fall, embraced the challenge of being on center stage in the regional title game.

“I found out that I was going to be pitching a few days ago, and it was emotional,” said Lambert, who plans to play football at Emory & Henry. “I still fight some discomfort in my knee, but I’m basically 100% percent.

“This night meant a lot to me.”

[email protected] | Twitter: @Greg_BHCSports | (276) 645-2544

By Harriet