Every year at this time in high school baseball, there's a player who rises up and does extraordinary things to lift his team toward a championship.
It happened with Tyler Matzek at Mission Viejo Capistrano Valley, Cory Hahn at Santa Ana Mater Dei, Jack Flaherty at Studio City Harvard-Westlake and Griffin Canning at Santa Margarita, all outstanding players who were magnificent at playoff time.
San Dimas (29-0) has a player, Peter Lambert, ready to join the list.
"He sets the standard," co-coach Mike Regan said. "Everybody follows his lead. Everybody is looking for what Peter is going to do and how he reacts. He's usually calm and collected. He thrives in big moments."
A 12-0 pitching record, a 0.37 earned-run average and a scholarship waiting for him at UCLA have made Lambert the pitcher to watch this season. But helping lead his team to a championship is the legacy Lambert wants most.
San Dimas won its Southern Section Division 3 playoff opener on Friday, 9-0, over La Quinta. Lambert allowed one hit, and he also hit a home run. San Dimas is chasing perfection, something that hasn't happened since Chatsworth went 35-0 in 2004, when
What makes Lambert particularly prepared to lead a playoff run is his fresh arm. He didn't pitch for San Dimas his first two seasons. The team needed him to play shortstop as a sophomore.
Last season, he was 11-2 with an 0.59 ERA. During the summer, he won a gold medal pitching for USA Baseball's 18U national team; that experienced taught him valuable lessons.
"You really have to learn how to pitch, not just throw," he said. "You got to throw your off-season pitch for strikes. You got to locate your fastball, and you can't just get up there and try to throw out your arm."
The right-hander has been consistently coming through with strong performances. And he's done it while the pressure grows from professional scouts showing up to make final evaluations in preparation for the June draft.
"When that time comes, it will be a huge decision," he said.
Meanwhile, he and his teammates have been playing loose and playing well. Perfection can be an elusive goal, but San Dimas might pull it off.
"Winning is fun, so we're having a lot of fun," Lambert said.
Battle of the lefties
Wednesday's City Section Division I semifinals matching No. 1 El Camino Real against No. 4 Narbonne will be the high school version of Clayton Kershaw vs. Madison Bumgarner.
The game, at 3 p.m. at Birmingham, will feature a pair of All-City left-handers, El Camino Real's Jeremy Polon (10-2, 1.04 ERA) vs. Narbonne's Daniel Rocha (9-1, 0.51). They faced off in a nonleague game on Feb. 25, and El Camino Real won, 3-1. A trip to Saturday's championship game at Dodger Stadium is at stake. The other semifinal, at 6 p.m. at Birmingham, matches West Valley League rivals Chatsworth and Cleveland.
San Fernando Valley teams have won 41 of the last 42 Division I championships. In Division II semifinals on Tuesday at the Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy in Compton, Lincoln will face South Gate at 3 p.m. and Chavez will play Franklin at 6 p.m.