Lilley perfect in Cavs baseball win

Published 10:44 pm Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The No. 3 Lakeland High School baseball team shut out No. 6 Heritage High School during Monday’s first round of the Ironclad Conference tournament at Nansemond River High School.

Cavaliers senior Tyler Lilley had a stellar night all around, but contributed most notably to the 16-0 win from the mound.

“My pitcher threw a perfect game tonight,” Lakeland coach David Devers said.

Lakeland High School senior Tyler Lilley throws to Heritage High School during Monday's conference tournament tilt at Nansemond River High School in which he threw a perfect game. (Jeremy Brant photo)

Lakeland High School senior Tyler Lilley throws to Heritage High School during Monday’s conference tournament tilt at Nansemond River High School in which he threw a perfect game. (Jeremy Brant photo)

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Lilley improved to 5-3 as a pitcher this season, throwing eight strikeouts in five innings before the game was concluded by the mercy rule.

“I was very excited to do what I did,” Lilley said. “I thought it was really cool, and I was proud of myself and proud of my team for being behind me.”

He said he has played baseball for 12 years, ever since he was 5, but had never come close to a perfect game before. The possibility of one happened to have been a topic of conversation before the game, though.

“Coach Devers said, ‘The only way I’ll leave you in the whole game is if you throw a perfect game,’ and I just tried my best to do it,” Lilley said.

The coach was impressed, and said, “It’s something that doesn’t come along very often for a young man.”

However, it is a feat that has been accomplished with remarkable frequency lately by Suffolk teams across softball and baseball. Lilley’s perfect game was the third produced by the city’s public schools against conference mates from the Peninsula within the last 13 days, as of Monday.

Against the Hurricanes, Lilley was also perfect on offense, going 4-for-4 at the plate, with two runs batted in and three runs scored.

Devers was pleased with his players’ handling of the tournament-level pressure.

“I think they responded well to that,” he said. “They came out, they played solid defensively, they hit the ball well, so really, I think we’re just doing a good job of carrying momentum over from the regular season.”

The Cavaliers ended the regular season with five consecutive wins and won six out of their final seven games.

They produced 14 hits on Monday and scored in bunches, including five runs in the first inning and nine in the fourth.

Senior Jefferson Knight went 2-for-3, with three RBIs, and senior Ryan Stalnaker went 2-for-3, with four runs scored.

Lakeland (9-10) advances to play No. 2 King’s Fork High School today in the conference tournament semifinals, with a start time of 5:30 p.m. at Nansemond River.

“That’s going to be a test for us,” Devers said. “We lost both our regular-season games to them by one run.”

He said the Cavaliers’ slip-ups on defense late in those contests accounted for the losses.

“We’re just going to have to play solid defensively, and then do what we‘ve been doing with the bat, and I think we’ll be just fine,” he said.

The winner qualifies for regional competition and advances to the conference tourney title game on Friday.