07/09/2018 2:30 PM -
Midlothian, Ill. – July 9, 2018 – The Midwest Collegiate League All-Star Game is on the horizon, and four players will be donning the Crestwood Panthers red and white during this Saturday’s festivities.
Last Saturday, the Midwest Collegiate League announced that two pitchers and two position players will represent the Panthers for the All-Star Game. Jackson Shepherd (Mesa CC/Channahon, Ill.) and Stephen Gilberstsen (Illinois State/Chesterton, Ind.) will feature on the mound while Reggie Brock (Chicago State/Chicago, Ill.) will man the outfield.
Cole Blatchford (Air Force Academy/Highlands Ranch, Colo.) also made the team but will not participate due to his participation in the Air Force Academy’s summer training program.
Shepherd and Gilbertsen have been the staples in the Panthers pitching corps this season as they have emerged as the go-to options for Isaac Valdez on the mound. Gilbertsen has primarily featured as a starter but has one win in relief. Over his 26 innings pitched, the future Illinois State walk-on has a record of 1-2 with a 3.12 ERA, amassing 25 strikeouts and allowing just nine earned runs. Meanwhile, Shepherd has been the most reliable bullpen option, as he has pitched 30 2/3 innings with an ERA of 3.82. He also has 25 strikeouts to just four walks, maintaining a low WHIP of just 1.011. His record stands at 0-1 with one save.
“Stephen and Jackson have excellent stuff,” Panthers manager Isaac Valdez said. “Their stat sheets may not be as impressive as other pitchers, but this All-Star Game is about putting players on display for Major League scouts to show what they can do, and their makeup and command of their pitches is what got them to the honors, and I know they’ll put on a good showing.”
Brock has been a mainstay in the Panthers lineup all season long, as he has consistently set the tone atop the batting order. For a leadoff hitter, he has impressive numbers, including a .298 batting average and a .407 on-base percentage with 11 runs batted in. He leads the Panthers in multiple offensive categories including walks (17) and runs scored (22). Additionally, his 10 stolen bases rank second on the ballclub.
“Reggie has always been steady,” Valdez said. “He’s also had a couple of hot spurts. He’s been big for us offensively and has come through in a lot of big spots. He really earned his all-star nod.”
Throughout his three weeks with the Panthers, Blatchford was a fixture in the middle of the lineup and on the mound. Despite strong numbers on the mound, including a 1.23 ERA, nine strikeouts, and a team-leading two saves, he was named to the East All-Star team as an infielder. Blatchford batted .338 with a .427 on-base percentage, belting two home runs and driving in eight runs in 17 games. He also slugged .431 and stole six bases, good for fifth on the team.
“Cole was far and away our best player,” Valdez said. “I don’t know where this team would be without his contributions on offense, defense, and on the mound. Even though he won’t be here to play the game, he absolutely deserves to be an All-Star and has earned all the recognition he’s received.”
The All-Star Game takes place this Saturday, July 14th at Oil City Stadium in Whiting, Ind. at 7:10 p.m. Tickets are available for as low as $5 at nwioilmen.com. If you are unable to attend the game, it will be broadcast on the Northwest Indiana Oilmen Broadcasting Network via Facebook Live with Brandon Vickrey and former MCL All-Star Andrew Lowe on the call.