07/12/2018 11:50 PM -
Midlothian, Ill. – July 12, 2018 – Another close game results in another close loss as the Crestwood Panthers could not get past the Joliet Generals, losing 5-3.
As they’ve done all season, the Panthers were unable to hit with runners in scoring position in the late innings, leaving nine runners on base during the loss.
The Panthers sent Chris Torres (Wabash Valley CC/Chesterton, Ind.) to the mound for his fourth start of the season, and he did not disappoint. He pitched seven strong innings of two-run ball, allowing five hits and walking three while striking out six. The only runs he allowed came with two outs in the sixth inning as five consecutive Generals reached base.
“Chris did a good job of throwing his secondary pitches for strikes,” Panthers manager Isaac Valdez said. “At any level, if you can get those pitches over for strikes, you’re going to be in the ballgame for a long time and be effective, and he was able to do that today.”
The Panthers opened the scoring in the opening frame putting together the game’s first two-out rally. Evan Bell (Memphis/Oak Park, Ill.) roped a double into left-center field with Blake Soria (South Mountain CC/Homer Glen, Ill.) reaching on an error one batter later. Pat Mayo (Spring Hill College/Oak Lawn, Ill.) singled to cap off the rally, bringing home Bell to give the Panthers an early 1-0 lead.
Neither team would score again until the top of the sixth inning when the Generals would rally to score two runs with two outs off Torres. Two walks and a single loaded the bases for Brett Stratinsky and Thomas Larson to single home two runs and take a 2-1 lead. Jimmy Day was thrown out at home by Reggie Brock (Chicago State/Chicago, Ill.) to prevent the Generals third run from scoring.
The Panthers would not wait too long to tie the score, as they did so just a half-inning later. Michael Jahnke (Coe College/Lansing, Ill.) extended his lead atop the team’s RBI leaderboard with his RBI groundout to score Bell.
Alex Dobrzeniecki (Olivet Nazarene/Lowell, Ind.) took the mound in the eighth to make his Panthers debut. He was one of two new players to feature in today’s game as Charlie Harrigan (Miami (OH)/Lagrange, Ill.) got the start in center field.
Dobrzeniecki’s day did not go as planned, as he gave up three runs in the top of the eighth inning, all of which coming on a Brett Stratinsky bases-loaded double, capping off his day with four RBI’s. The Generals would strand runners on the corners in the eighth and the bases loaded in the ninth, but the damage had already been done. Dobrzeniecki would allow three runs in his two innings of work on five hits and three walks, striking out six batters.
“Alex showed me a lot of promising stuff,” Valdez said. “He has pretty good velocity as well as a good curveball. Even so, I said to him before he took the mound that when #27 comes to the plate, the pitch has to be elevated, even if we walk him. He was not able to do that, and that deviation from the game plan cost us the game.”
Despite coming into the bottom of the ninth inning facing the Generals All-Star reliever Alex Herbst with a three-run deficit, the Panthers did not go down without a fight. Jahnke and Brian Vance (Saint Joseph’s (Pa.)/Chicago, Ill.) both singled and Maurey Garrett (Heartland CC/Flossmoor, Ill.) reached on a Harrison Hayes error to load the bases with no outs.
Valdez would look to the bench with the bases loaded to try and provide the winning spark, sending Dan Cryan (South Suburban/Orland Park, Ill.) to keep the rally going. Unfortunately, that move would backfire as Cryan struck out on three pitches. Brock would ground into a fielder’s choice one batter later to put the Panthers down to their final out. Harrigan would draw a four-pitch walk to cut the deficit to two, but Bell struck out on a 2-2 curveball to cement the loss.
The Panthers had a couple strong performances at the plate, Bell finished his day 3-5 while Brock went 2-5. However, of the team’s 10 hits, only one came with runners in scoring position.
“We just haven’t been able to hit with runners in scoring position all season long,” Valdez said. “Our record reflects that. I’m just being honest and real. It feels like in every scenario when we have runners in scoring position or even when we get at least two guys on base, I don’t know what it is but we can’t hit.”
This game marks the Panthers’ last before the All-Star break as the team will return to the diamond next Wednesday against the Generals once again, this time at Wayne L. King Jr. field at 5:00 p.m. You can catch all the action on the Joliet Generals YouTube channel as Ryan Zimmerman will join Sam Oppenheim on the play-by-play call.