Chepil's perfect game highlights Lakeland doubleheader sweep
Athletics - posted on 4/4/2009
Lakeland junior Lee Chepil couldn't find anyone to talk to during or after the game, but that didn't stop the big right-hander from doing some talking on the field.
Chepil tossed what is believed to be the first perfect game in Lakeland baseball history, mowing down 21 consecutive Maranatha Baptist hitters in a 10-run-rule shortened 18-0 victory in a Northern Athletics Conference doubleheader on Saturday afternoon in Watertown.
The Muskies (7-11, 4-2) completed the sweep hours later with a 3-1 comeback win in Game 2.
Chepil, a Ladysmith native, was ignored in the dugout by teammates in the last few innings of the game, as is customary when a pitcher is throwing a no-hitter. Following the game, he was unable to get a hold of his parents to inform them of the feat.
Nevertheless, Chepil, who had to borrow a teammate's glove for the contest after leaving his on the Lakeland campus, was ecstatic after his second win of the season.
"I don't know how to describe it," said Chepil, who struck out eight in the game. "I was nervous because the guys weren't talking to me at the end, so I had to seek them out to talk to someone.
"It was crazy when it was over ... there was so much elation and it was just unbelievable. This ranks at the top of my career."
Chepil said he realized he had faced the minimum and was throwing a perfect game in the sixth inning.
"I knew I was throwing a no-hitter, but I didn't realize it was a perfect game," Chepil said. "I tried not to think about it."
Throwing primarily fastballs and cutters, Chepil overpowered Crusader hitters and located the ball extremely well.
Lakeland coach Chris Thousand, who has been a part of two other no-hitters as a player and a coach, ranked Chepil's performance right up there with his other experiences.
"Lee was awesome, and the defense behind him was great," Thousand said. "I told our guys to soak it in after the game, because it's such a rarity to be in a situation like that."
The Muskies pounded out 13 hits to give Chepil plenty of run support. Sophomore shortstop Brad Young (West Bend) led the way with four hits, two runs and an RBI as every Lakeland hitter in the line-up posted at least one hit.
In Game 2, Lakeland erased a 1-0 deficit in the top of the eighth inning with three runs on consecutive run-scoring hits by sophomore second baseman Ryan Polizzi and freshman left fielder Mike Huber.
The Muskies left 14 runners on base, but were lifted by fantastic pitching, which surrendered just three Maranatha Baptist hits.
Sophomore reliever Jeremy Williams (Zion, Ill.) tossed three innings of scoreless relief to pick up his first win of the season, backing up a solid showing by starter Garrett Morris (Janesville).
"The second game was a good pitching match-up," Thousand said. "Maranatha made some nice defensive plays and really outplayed us for seven innings. It was nervewracking."
The Muskies return to action tomorrow afternoon for a home doubleheader against Marian. First pitch is set for 12 p.m. (UPDATE: Sunday's doubleheader has been postponed. A make-up date has not yet been determined.)
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