While most Cubs players took Thursday to enjoy a much-needed day off between their respective series with the Braves and Brewers, ace pitcher Ryan Dempster spent the day working toward his elusive first victory.

Despite having an incredible 1.02 ERA, the beleaguered Cubs starter has begun the 2012 campaign 0-1 in his first five starts. On Thursday, Dempster evened up his record—pitching against a local Lombard 12-year-old Little League team.

Dempster threw a near-perfect game as a walk-on pitcher for the visiting Villa Park Panthers. He mowed down 27 Lombard Lions in a row after giving up a lead-off hit batsmen. It looked as though Dempster’s control may be shaky from the get-go. However, he explained the first walk.

“I just wanted to send a message,” said Dempster. “I’ll do whatever it takes to notch a win, and I’m not about to let little Tommy Johnson crowd the plate so he can establish his presence. Hell, one run is all it usually takes to beat me. I had to be on my A-game.”

After issuing the walk to Johnson, Dempster quickly settled down—working his full array of pitches, and notching a fastball in the mid-90s.

“Man, I was bringing the heat today,” an elated Dempster said. “There’s just something about Little League moms watching that puts extra fuel in my tank. I’d just like to say to Cheryl Johnson that I’m sorry about Tommy’s broken arm. But you looked great in that sundress.”

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