06/09/2018 9:30 AM -
Lemont, Ill. – June 8, 2018 – Two big innings was all it took for the DuPage County Hounds as they rolled past they Crestwood Panthers 13-4.
As has been a trend in the early going, the Panthers were snakebitten by their inability to throw strikes. The Hounds scored five runs in the second inning on just one hit, as Panthers starting pitcher Malik Binns (Waubonsee CC/Bolingbrook, Ill.) issued three walks and hit three batters, taking the loss in the process.
Reliever Michael Jahnke (Coe College/Lansing, Ill.) was called upon to pitch in the third inning, and he did not fare much better. Jahnke allowed eight runs on five hits and three walks in his one inning of work as the Hounds pushed their lead out to 13-0.
Even though they faced an insurmountable lead in the early goings, the Panthers continued to fight and gave the Hounds everything they could handle. Their never-say-die attitude was personified by Jackson Shepherd (Mesa CC/Channahon, Ill.), who came in from center field to take the mound in the fourth inning and pitched effectively. Over his five innings of work, he allowed no runs and only four hits, also striking out four.
“I just went out there and trusted my mechanics today,” Shepherd said. “When I came in to pitch, I didn’t want to think too much because I’m an overthinker, so I followed the game plan and trusted Blake [Soria] to call the game, and it worked out.”
In addition to a quality offensive performance, Hounds starting pitcher Jake Anderson took care of business on the hill. He went six shutout innings and earned the win after giving up merely two hits and striking out four. Anderson is 2-0 on the season thus far and is yet to give up a run over 13 innings of work.
The Panthers finally cracked the scoreboard in the seventh inning after a Maurey Garrett infield single scored Shepherd. Garrett would come around to score himself when Hounds catcher Kennedy Phillips committed a throwing error after Garrett stole third base. Colton Rydlewski (Albion College/Schererville, Ind.) would double the Panthers run total in the ninth by delivering a two-RBI single.
“I give my guys all the credit in the world,” Panthers manager Isaac Valdez said. “99 out of 100 teams would have thrown in the towel after the third inning, but not us. It’s a testament to the type of people and athletes on this Panthers roster to never give up and play hard no matter what the score is.”
The Panthers will take the field once again tomorrow at Hap Bruno Field in Chicago Heights as they take on the Southland Vikings at 1:00 p.m. CT. If the Panthers want to come out victorious in tomorrow’s contest, the players will have to improve upon their mental approach.
“It all comes down to the mental part of the game,” Shepherd said. “We can hang with any team in this league. Once we figure things out from the mental side, we’ll start winning.”
“We outplay ourselves most of the time,” Valdez added. “The players need to develop a higher baseball IQ, and it’s my goal this summer to educate them on the game within the game. Once I do that, we’ll cut down on the mental mistakes and put together complete nine-inning performances.”
Despite the team’s slow start, Valdez still firmly believes in the team’s talent and their ability to win games. “We just have to keep doing what we’ve been doing and we’ll be fine,” Valdez said. “If we continue to play like we have over the past week, we’re going to start winning.”
You can catch tomorrow’s game on the Crestwood Panthers Broadcasting Network with Ryan Zimmerman delivering the play-by-play call, available via Facebook Live on the Crestwood Panthers Facebook page.