Keppel pulls off unique feat

After throwing 82 pitches through six innings and leaving with a comfortable 12-4 lead against Clymer on Monday, Jared Keppel thought his day on the mound was complete.

However, the Pirates scored four runs in the top of the seventh inning and had one runner on base when Keppel returned to the hill. He entered down in the count 2-0. He walked that batter which put the tying run on deck, making it a save situation.

From there, Keppel struck out the last two batters to earn the win and the save.

There was some confusion Monday night as to whether or not Keppel indeed earned the win and the save. The scenario left many confused Monday night. I called two coaches and a fellow sports editor and we were all unsure if Keppel should be credited with both. It was Silver Creek coach Mike Janisch who confirmed the stat later in the evening.

“I have never seen it before,” North Collins coach Paul Kellner said, who has been coaching for 16 years. “It’s a rarity. It’s the first time I ever brought a pitcher back in to pitch after pulling him.

What makes the feat most impressive is the fact Keppel was able to channel his physical and mental fatigue.

“Not only does the body stiffen up, when you pitch, your lower back and legs take a toll,” Kellner said. “You use every muscle. The next day is when you feel it. Some of that was starting to set in. I never brought (a pitcher) back in just in fear of hurting an arm or having it stiffen up. Mentally, you have to gear yourself up to get back in there. The situation is different. You aren’t relaxed. There are two runners on base. He walked the first batter and then struck out the next two guys. He regained his focus and did exactly what I had hoped.”

With a young pitching staff this season, Kellner will rely on the senior Keppel to be the ace.

Kellner was hoping he did not have to use Keppel again like he did Monday, but the Eagles did not want to let an early-season league win slip through their hands.

“If I can’t count on him, we aren’t going to do much,” Kellner said. “He answered the bell. It’s nice to see we can count on him in that situation.

“Keppel is not a pitcher,” Kellner noted. “He has a fantastic arm. If he plays at the next level, I think he would be best suited as an outfielder or third baseman. His arm is dynamite. He is fulfilling a role because we need him to and he will do whatever it takes for us to win. I gave him the ball and away he went. It was a unique standpoint. It’s a rarity that you have to bring your starter back in. In that situation, it’s weird. It’s also funny.”