Surry’s Huntley, Lambert named baseball All-Americans
It’s been nearly a month since Surry Community College’s baseball team played its last game, but the Knights are still reaping the benefits of their historic 2017 season.
Earlier this week, Surry sophomore sensations Jordan Huntley and Matthew Lambert were both named NJCAA Division III Baseball All-Americans. Huntley and Lambert are the first Knights to earn All-American honors since Johnny Spake in 2007. It also marks the first time Surry has ever had two All-Americans in the same season.
The announcement follows on the heels of an incredible 2017 campaign that saw SCC win its first Region X title since 2004 while reaching the College World Series for the first time since 1998.
“We’ve had a heck of a year. (Robbie Edwards) from Thomas Nelson was an All-American and he was deserving. Other than that, the rest of the All-Americans were from up north or out west,” Surry head coach Tim Collins said. “There were very few from our area and that speaks highly of our players and how they ranked against players from all over the U.S.”
A sophomore outfielder, Huntley put up outstanding numbers in 2017, leading the Knights in almost every offensive category. A transfer from Tusculum College, Huntley immediately made an impact in Dobson, recording team bests in runs (68), triples (7), home runs (14), walks (39), batting average (.399), on-base percentage (.540) and slugging percentage (.803). He was also second on the team in hits (71) and doubles (16) to earn second-team All-American honors.
“It sounds kind of cocky to say it, but I didn’t expect anything less,” Huntley said. “During winter break, I was out hitting and running every day trying to be a better player. I knew I would have to put in the work and knew if I got the opportunity I would never look back.”
Huntley has already signed to continue his collegiate baseball career with Division II powerhouse Mount Olive next season. He hopes another strong year in 2018 will help him to get selected in the 2018 MLB draft.
“I want to thank the Surry coaching staff. They took the time and gave me the trust in leading the team this year,” Huntley said. “It is a big honor for a coach to give you that much trust and faith, especially for a kid that transferred in. It was a blast to help the team win and to go back to my old school and play in the World Series at Tusculum.”
Collins said Huntley was everything Surry could have hoped for in 2017. The Knights coach said Huntley and Lambert are both high-caliber individuals with good moral values and the willingness to work extremely hard.
“I’m glad to see both got some recognition for their hard work. I was 99 percent sure Jordan would make All-American with his numbers and I was very pleased Matthew made it also,” Collins said. “I knew if Jordan was good enough to play at Tusculum he was a good player. I knew he would be a good fit and that is what the Tusculum coaches told me, about how much better he had gotten and that he found the right fit. He was one of the favorite players I have ever coached.”
A 2015 graduate of North Stanly High School, Lambert was honored as National Pitcher of the Week earlier in the season after throwing a no-hitter against Danville CC. He followed it up by finishing with a team-best record of 8-4 with one save and three complete games. Utilizing a wide range of off-speed pitches, Lambert kept hitters confused during his sophomore season as he pitched a team-high 89 innings while whiffing 88 hitters compared to 36 walks. He also finished with a team-best ERA of 3.54 to earn third-team All-American honors.
“I was just kind of in shock,” Lambert said of making the All-American team. “I didn’t really think anything about it at first because the season was over and I had moved on. Coach Collins called me and said you and Jordan have been named All-American, and I was like, ‘Wow, that’s a pretty big honor.’ It was a pretty awesome feeling.”
For Lambert, he said it was sweet redemption to help the Knights win 29 games and reach the College World Series one season after Surry won just 16 contests.
“That’s a good season in my book. Going to the World Series for the first time was also amazing,” he said. “I hope that helps the recruiting process for Coach Collins because we really turned it around from winning 16 games my freshman year to almost winning 30 games this year. It was an awesome experience and I am glad I got to go through it with all those guys.”
Lambert is close to making a decision about his collegiate baseball future. He is still trying to decide between his two favorites – Pfeiffer University and Catawba College.
Collins said Lambert was a team captain this year and he did a great job of keeping the pitching staff in line. To be named an All-American is an extremely rare accomplishment and one Collins is proud to see Lambert obtain.
“I think only nine pitchers get All-American honors. Think about how many pitchers there are – 96 teams, each with eight or nine pitchers, so you are talking about 850 or so pitchers and Matthew was chosen as one of the top nine,” Collins said. “I couldn’t be any prouder of him.”
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