SARATOGA SPRINGS — Longtime Saratoga Catholic varsity baseball coach Alphonse Lambert earned his 600th career win on Saturday, as the Saints beat Schuylerville 12-1 in the championship game of the Phil Waring Memorial Tournament.
The Saints’ head coach since 1988, Lambert has compiled a career record of 600-213 over 35 seasons, and has led the Saints to 15 league championships and five Section 2 Championships. He is a member of the St. Peter’s / Saratoga Central Catholic Hall of Fame, and the New York State Baseball Hall of Fame.
As Lambert himself said, “That’s a lot of baseball.”
He was quick to credit his players and fellow coaches, saying, “I just enjoy coaching these kids.”
“I’ve had some great, great young people that have played for me, and great coaches,” said Lambert. “I always said that I never threw a baseball, I never hit a baseball, and I never scored a run. It’s been all the kids, and the coaches. … The kids have bought in over the years, and that’s why our program is where it’s at.”
The Saints beat Corinth 9-2 in the opening round of the tournament on Saturday morning, setting up the championship matchup with Schuylerville, the defending Section 2 Class B Champions.
Saints’ freshman pitcher Pierce Byrne shut down the Black Horses’ offense, and Saratoga Catholic used a balanced attack at the plate to pull away in the middle innings, sealing a five-inning mercy-rule victory.
Aidan Crowther was 2-3 with a triple and four RBIs, while Ryan Gillis went 3-3 with three singles and an RBI. Ronan Rowe and Byrne each went 2-3 with a double and an RBI, while Kihl Kelly and Tyler Weygand were each 1-3 with an RBI. Carson Moser and Kameron Cox both added RBIs for the Saints.
Lambert said coaching is something he has “always wanted to do,” and emphasized how much SCC means to him.
“I work at the greatest school around, and I work with the greatest people around, and I teach the best kids around,” said Lambert. “That’s just always been my thought. If they open up my chest and they operate, they’re going to see purple and gold blood. That’s what they’re going to see.”
Lambert also said it was “very special” to earn his 600th victory with his current group of players, saying many of them began attending his baseball camps at young ages.
“I’ve had these kids since they were five, six, seven years old, a lot of these kids,” said Lambert. “They came up as young, young kids for me. To watch them develop and compete against juniors and seniors is very rewarding.”
Saints’ sophomore catcher Hunter Fales said Lambert “means a lot” to him, noting he first attended the coach’s baseball camp as a sixth-grader.
“He’s been one of the most important people in my life since I moved here,” Fales said. “I went to his camp, and that was when I first met him. I knew I was going to love playing for him ever since. … He loves this team, and we all love him, so it’s easy to function.”
“He was the reason I was on varsity for so long. He believed in me,” added freshman pitcher Pierce Byrne, who is in his third season with the varsity squad. “He means a lot to me.”
While there was some time to reflect following Saturday’s milestone victory, Lambert and the Saints quickly refocused for sectional play, which begins Friday. Saratoga Catholic finished the regular season 17-3 overall and 13-3 in the Wasaren League, earning the top seed in the Section 2 Class C Tournament.
Saratoga Catholic will host #8-seed Waterford-Halfmoon (7-13 overall, 5-11 Wasaren) in the opening round of the sectional tournament at 6 p.m. on Friday.
With the Saints riding a 10-game winning streak heading into sectionals, Fales said the team is playing with confidence as they prepare for the postseason.
“I think our whole team is very confident right now,” Fales said. “Swinging the bat, playing defense.”
Lambert said the team’s goal heading into sectionals is to simply “win each inning.”
“We’re not going to get the cart ahead of the horse,” said Lambert. “We’ve got to win each inning. That’s our goal, is to win the inning.”