Lakeland puts together complete performance in road sweep
Athletics - posted on 5/4/2009
The Lakeland baseball team put it all together on Monday night, posting 6-4 and 1-0 victories over Dominican in a Northern Athletics Conference doubleheader at River Forest, Ill.
The Muskies (14-23, 9-11 NAC) were solid offensively, defensively and on the rubber, as they improved their road record to 9-4 with their third sweep away from home on the season.
The wins were even more impressive considering Dominican had won eight of its last 10 contests heading into the twin bill.
"We played one of the hottest teams in the league, and we played well," said junior Doug Novak, who had four hits, including three doubles, in the games. "That was our most complete performance of the season, and by far the best we've played all year."
The victories would not have been possible without a pair of outstanding pitching displays by sophomore Mike Ruzek and junior Lee Chepil.
Ruzek, who pitched in Game 2, tossed a complete-game shutout, striking out Michael Albert on a full count with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth to end the game.
The Manitowoc native had nine strikeouts, needing only 105 pitches to nab his fifth win and third complete game of the season.
"The key was locating and hitting spots, as it has been the last couple times out," Ruzek said. "I tried to keep them off-balance as the game went on by staying ahead with fastballs and sliders. I was able to use my curve ball in strikeout situations.
"Because it was on the road, and I didn't give up any runs, I'd say this was my best performance so far."
Ruzek received his only run support in the top of the sixth, when sophomore catcher David Novak knocked in shortstop Brad Young from third with a single to right.
David Novak, Doug Novak and Young were the only Lakeland players to register hits in Game 2, posting two apiece.
Lakeland committed no errors, while Dominican (18-20, 11-11) left seven runners on base.
In the first game, Chepil (3-4) tossed 8 1/3 innings, surrendering only four runs (three earned) over that span.
"I threw a lot of fastballs, and they swung at a lot of first pitches," Chepil said. "It was a lot like the game against Benedictine that I threw, in that it was kind of a pitcher's duel for a while."
He also noted the stellar play of the defense, pointing out key plays by third baseman Stephen "Hollywood" Kalina and the game plan of catcher Brad "Fudd" Chrudimsky.
Earlier this season, Chepil, a Ladysmith native, tossed a seven-inning perfect game at Maranatha Baptist, becoming the only pitcher in Lakeland history to throw a perfect game.
Chepil was relieved by sophomore Bill Miller in the ninth, who picked up his second save of the year despite surrendering a pair of hits.
Lakeland got the bats going in the eighth and ninth innings, posting a pair of runs in each frame.
In the eighth, sophomore left fielder Jeremy Williams knocked a two-out double to left to put the Muskies ahead 4-2. Williams finished 3-for-4 with three runs batted in for the game.
"It definitely helped that Lee and 'Ruz' threw gems," Doug Novak said. "It's much easier to hit when you're ahead or tied. We were very loose, which is big."
Lakeland wraps up its 2009 season tomorrow with a doubleheader at MSOE beginning at 2 p.m. The games will be played at Wisconsin Lutheran's Neumann Family Field.
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