Lakeland splits home twin bill
Athletics - posted on 4/28/2009
SHEBOYGAN - Sophomore Cal Post's solo home run in the fifth inning broke a 2-2 tie and put the Lakeland baseball team ahead for good, allowing the Muskies to escape with a 4-3 victory over Benedictine in the first game of a Northern Athletics Conference doubleheader on Tuesday at Lakeland.
Benedictine retaliated in Game 2 with a 4-0 triumph.
"Our level of play in the first game was great," Lakeland coach Chris Thousand said. "We have an outside chance of getting to the conference tournament, so we fed off that and played well out of the gate."
In Game 1, Post, an Appleton native, knocked a hanging off-speed pitch from Eagles starting pitcher Jake Thompson just over the left field fence to give Lakeland (12-21, 7-9 NAC) a one-run advantage.
"I was just trying to go up there and get a base hit, and the pitcher hung a splitter and I was able to hit it out," said Post, who was 2-for-4 with two runs batted in for the game.
The Muskies would tack on one more run later in the frame on a fielder's choice grounder from sophomore Ryan Polizzi.
Senior relief pitcher Mike Phillips, who entered the game at the start of the ninth inning with a 4-2 advantage, escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the frame to earn his first save of the season.
After three men reached by a walk and two errors, Phillips induced a 6-4-3 double play, allowing one run to cross. With two outs and a man on third, Phillips got Benedictine's Kevin Graham to fly out to center, ending the threat.
Sophomore starting pitcher Mike Ruzek (4-3) was fantastic for the second straight outing, going eight innings and allowing just two runs while striking out six.
On April 19, the Manitowoc native surrendered just one run while going the distance in a 6-1 Lakeland win.
"Ruzek pitched a heck of a game," Post said. "Our defense rallied behind him. He makes it easy for us because he works fast and throws strikes."
Lakeland overcame four errors by turning three double plays, while Muskie pitchers stranded nine Benedictine runners in the game.
The Muskies received another outstanding pitching performance in the second game, but bailed out the Eagles (16-18, 10-8) with a key ninth-inning defensive miscue and a quiet offensive performance.
Junior starting pitcher Lee Chepil (2-4) tossed eight scoreless innings, and would have been out of the top of the ninth without giving up a run. However, the inning continued after a two-out error put men on first and third.
The next three batters all recorded hits, giving the Eagles four unearned runs in the inning and forcing Chepil out of the game after 8 2/3 innings of stellar work.
"We challenged Lee to be more consistent, especially in the later innings," Thousand said. "He was, but we had some errors and misplays in the ninth that cost us. We need to learn to make the plays when it counts."
Lakeland recorded just one hit in the game, a leadoff single by junior centerfielder Jacob Heinemeyer in the bottom of the seventh. The Muskies left the bases loaded in the inning, one of four different innings the team left a runner on third base.
"Some of our guys are swinging too early in the count, while others are swinging at bad pitches," Thousand said. "We definitely need a more consistent approach."
Lakeland continues league action on Thursday in a doubleheader at Dominican. First pitch is set for 4 p.m. in River Forest, Ill.
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