Strike Zone: A senior Bearcat pitcher has an arm that lasts entire games

Published 9:35 pm Tuesday, April 15, 2014

For seven innings last Friday, left-handed pitcher Tate Lambert exhausted himself on the mound in the first game of a doubleheader against Thomas County Central. He allowed six runs, only three of them earned. He struck out eight Yellow Jackets and walked one.
At 18-years-old, he’s throwing fastballs between 80 and 85 mph. His record is 86 mph, at least that he knows of. If he’s not pitching, he’s posted up at centerfield.
Lambert said he’s always been like that. He can’t sit in the house doing nothing. He loves getting out to socialize, having fun with friends. His incapability to sit still translates well to the baseball field when the sixth and seventh innings roll around and his arm is getting tired.
“As I get further into the game, you just have to get ahead,” Lambert said. “You just have to throw strikes. As a pitcher, it’s mental more than it is physical. It’s 80 percent mental and 20 percent physical. If you get down on yourself, you can’t let it get to you, or you’ll start messing up.”
After throwing more than 100 pitches in a single game, Lambert’s arm is worn out. Running helps him relieve the pain. It helps cycle out the lactic acid that’s making it sore and gets his blood pumping for another game.
He’s always had a ball in his hand, he said. When he was really young, he knew pitchers like Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine were the real deal. He might not have been old enough to watch them closely, but their star-status as enough to make Lambert want to be a pitcher.
“They didn’t throw that hard, but they could hit the spot,” Lambert said.
These days he’s watching new stars like Clayton Kershaw on the Dodgers and David Price on the Rays. Both are young, talented pitchers who are making waves in the MLB.
When Lambert knew he wanted to practice being a pitcher, Lambert’s only option was to play on a travel ball team. He was 10-years-old and Bainbridge Leisure Services baseball had players use pitching machines until they were 11. He started taking lessons from Thomas University baseball coach William “Boo” Taylor.
“He’s been working with me for a long time,” Taylor said, who was a pitcher for the Oakland Athletics and the Pittsburgh Pirates. “He’s done a great job, and he’s put the work in. He’s made his mind his mind up that he wants to go to the next level. Being a left-handed pitcher, he’s done well learning how to pitch, not just being a pitcher, and that’s awesome.”
Taylor said Lambert has also done a good job using different pitches when they mattered. Though he likes throwing a couple different fastballs and a curveball, Lambert said his favorite was his change-up.
“It’s probably my best pitch,” Lambert said. “But it’s hard to throw.”
When he moved to high school, he played on the ninth grade team for one year before moving to varsity as a sophomore. Now he’s eager to play in college, though he’s not sure where.
He believes he can handle the pressures of pitching at any level. Lambert said during the first game against Thomas County Central last Friday, he didn’t feel too much pressure weighing on him toward the last couple innings.
“I breathe and focus on me and the catcher,” he said. “You got to have a good relationship with your catcher. You got to know how they catch, and they have to know how you pitch.”

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