06/27/2018 11:30 PM -
Midlothian, Ill. - June 27, 2018 – The Crestwood Panthers pitching staff prevailed in a pitcher’s duel against the Southland Vikings, winning a tightly contested ballgame 3-2.
In anticipation of a doubleheader on Sunday against the DuPage County Hounds, Panthers manager Isaac Valdez opted to use three pitchers to ensure their availability over the weekend. The combination of Chris Torres (Wabash Valley CC/Chesterton, Ind.), Jake Miller (Concordia/Plainfield, Ill.), and Jackson Shepherd (Mesa CC/Channahon, Ill.) held the Vikings to two runs on seven hits en route to the team’s second consecutive victory.
“The pitchers did very well today,” Valdez said. “The plan wasn’t innings but rather number of pitches, it just so happened that the pitch counts I had them on took them through just three innings each. It sets up that everyone who pitched today will be available on Sunday.”
Miller picked up his first win of the season while Shepherd recorded his first save. Valdez was especially impressed with Shepherd’s performance.
“Jackson Shepherd once again pitched lights-out as he’s done all season long,” Valdez said. “He executed the game plan and minimized his pitches tremendously.”
In addition to the Panthers strong performance on the mound, their offense got the job done against Vikings starter and reigning MCL pitcher of the week Justin Ruthrauff. Reggie Brock (Chicago State/Chicago, Ill.) led the way for the Panthers at the plate by going 3-4 with two RBI’s. He also scored the team’s opening run in the first inning, accounting for all three of his team’s runs.
“Before I stepped into the box I wanted to see how he [Ruthrauff] was spotting his pitches at first,” Brock said. “Once I figured out his location, I realized I needed to go middle-away. I tried to go left-center initially, get the bat head down, and get on base so we could score some runs.”
Adding onto his impressive day at the dish, Brock also impacted the game on the basepaths, stealing two bases off the left-handed Ruthrauff.
“It looked like he was just taking one look down to first before he [Ruthrauff] just goes to the plate,” Brock said. “Since he’s a lefty I decided I would run on first movement, so right when he lifted his leg I took off and tried to get the best jump I could.”
Despite the Panthers only putting up three runs, Valdez thinks his team’s approach at the plate has dramatically improved.
“Over the course of the season you’re going to have games like this,” Valdez said. “Today was one of those days where both sets of pitchers were on point and you have to find a way to win, which is what we did today. This is not something I’m going to second guess or worry about. We hit really well on Sunday so I know the talent is there. Even though we didn’t hit as well today, we still won the game, and in the end, that’s what matters.”
The Panthers will take the field again tomorrow at 7:00 p.m. when they host the Bloomington Bobcats at Howie Minas Field. Valdez expects a different type of challenge as his team is set to square off in what looks to be another tightly contested battle with the Bobcats.
“In all the games we’ve played against Bloomington, the bottom line has been execution. We haven’t been able to do that in our last three games against them, hence we lost. Tomorrow, if we execute when we have our opportunities, whether we play small ball or call a hit and run, whatever the case may be, we’re going to come out on top.”
Coverage of tomorrow’s game can be found on the Crestwood Panthers Broadcasting Network via Facebook Live with Ryan Zimmerman delivering the play-by-play call.