His late grandfather had been 10-year-old baseball star Jayden Lamberton's No. 1 source of inspiration.

He still is.

Lamberton, who pitches in the Santa Ynez Valley PONY League's 12-and-Under Bronco Division, had already made a mark for himself in youth baseball at a young age when his grandfather, David Flora Sr., died on Aug. 5, 2017, and Jayden was about to pitch in a game soon after.

"He had been very nervous," Matt Lamberton, Jayden's father, recalled.

"Then he said he could sense that his grandfather told him everything was going to be all right. He just knew it. Then (in Jayden's pitching outing), he  went out and just rocked it."

Her late father "was Jayden's No. 1 fan," Malissa Lamberton, Jayden's mother and the late David Flora's daughter, said.

"He never missed a game. Then, when he couldn't go to the games, he followed Jayden's games on GameChanger."

Matt and Malissa Lamberton said their son has dedicated this season to his late grandfather.

Besides distinguishing himself at the Santa Ynez PONY League level while playing with and against older players — "He's 10, and he plays in a 12-and-Under league," said Matt Lamberton — Jayden Lamberton recently pitched a perfect game for the Santa Maria Venom, another youth baseball team.

Jayden and his parents spoke before Jayden had the honor of throwing out the first pitch before the Santa Maria Reds' game against the Santa Maria Valley Packers in a summer game at Elks Field last Friday night.

"I'm excited to be throwing out the first pitch," Jayden Lamberton, a well-spoken youngster who said his best pitch is his fastball, said shortly beforehand.

Jayden is good enough to have been invited to join the elite Team Nike youth baseball program. He has an invitation to travel with Team Nike and play for a U.S. youth squad that will travel to the Dominican Republic this August and play against a youth team that is based there.

The youngster pitched a no-hitter, with 15 strikeouts, in a game at Elings Park in Santa Barbara recently. He can hit, too.

"Jayden won the 12-and-Under PONY Home Run Derby with 10 home runs," said Malissa Lamberton.

Malissa Lamberton said that a baseball scout for the Chicago Cubs organization took a look at Jayden in action and recommended he register for a Team Nike youth camp that was taking place at Westmont College in Montecito.

"The cost was around $1,000, and I told the gentleman (who scouted for the Cubs), that I didn't know how we would be able to afford that," said Malissa Lamberton.

The scout was impressed enough with Jayden Lamberton that he replied, "'You've GOT to do it,'" Malissa Lamberton said.

"Jayden's grandfather paid for the whole thing."

This year, "We're going to have to do some fund raising to be able to do it," Malissa Lamberton said.

She said that although Jayden will not be old enough to officially join Team Nike until he is 12, he can participate in Team Nike camps until then and can travel with the organization to the Dominican Republic.

Matt and Malissa Lamberton said that Jayden will play for the Santa Maria Outlaws youth baseball club when the Santa Ynez PONY season is over.

"Baseball is Jayden's life," Malissa Lamberton said.

"When he was 4, he said he wanted to play for the Los Angeles Dodgers," Jayden's mother said. "I was like, 'Yeah, sure, honey. Go for it.'"

Now, Matt and Malissa said, a professional baseball career for Jayden doesn't seem like such a remote possibility.


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