07/26/2018 12:45 AM -
Lemont, Ill. – July 25, 2018 – The Panthers pitching staff was unable to contain the high-flying DuPage County Hounds offense as they stumbled to an 18-2 defeat against the top team in the MCL.
After falling behind 2-1 in the top of the fifth inning, the Hounds roared back with 17 unanswered runs, including 11 in the sixth inning, to secure a lopsided victory. The Hounds scored at least one run per inning from the fifth to the eighth and only failed to score in three innings.
The team’s struggles permeated throughout all three phases of the game, as everything seemed to go against them in today’s game. While the pitching staff surrendered 17 hits and issued 13 walks, their defense offered them little help as they committed five errors. The offense could only muster five hits, including two two-hit performances from Blake Soria (South Mountain CC/Homer Glen, Ill.) and Pat Mayo (Spring Hill College/Oak Lawn, Ill.), leaving 19 runners on base.
“At the college level, baseball becomes more and more of a mental game,” Panthers manager Isaac Valdez said. “In order to succeed, you need to have mental strength. You need to pick yourself up, forget about today, and make sure you do better the next time. These types of games happen to everybody, but if we can maintain our focus and regroup mentally, we’ll be able to come back tomorrow and play better baseball.”
Jackson Shepherd (Mesa CC/Channahon, Ill.) took the mound for the Panthers and kept the score close throughout his five innings of work. He allowed four runs (three earned) on seven hits, walking three and striking out two over that span as he received a losing decision.
The Panthers held leads on two separate occasions with Shepherd on the mound. They opened the scoring in the second inning after Maurey Garrett (Heartland CC/Flossmoor, Ill.) reached on a Matt Verdun error to score Blake Soria. A Wyell Woods RBI groundout tied the game in the bottom of that inning, but the Panthers would strike back with a run-scoring groundout of their own as Brandon Simon (Arkansas-Pine Bluff/Chicago, Ill.) brought home Reggie Brock (Chicago State/Chicago, Ill.) who reached third base on a dropped third strike the batter before.
Following Shepherd’s departure, everything seemed to go wrong for the Panthers. Michael Jahnke (Coe College/Lansing, Ill.) moved from third base to the pitcher’s mound and failed to find a consistent rhythm. He faced 12 batters but only recorded one out in his outing, giving up 11 runs on five walks and three hits.
“He’s [Jahnke] unfortunately been underperforming on the mound this season,” Valdez said. “He just doesn’t throw enough strikes. To me it seems like he’s been trying to overthrow his pitches as his unique mechanics and delivery don’t give him much room for error, it shows in the output.”
Mayo would relieve Jahnke on the mound and go the rest of the way. In his 2 1/3 innings pitched, three Hounds crossed home plate on four hits and five walks. Mayo also struck out three batters.
“We’re at a point as a team where everybody is looking for somebody else to give them the answer,” Valdez said. “Ultimately, each person is responsible for their own success or failure. These guys need to look from within and figure things out, which they have not yet done and our record reflects that.”
The Panthers (6-28-1) will look to bounce back tomorrow as they travel downstate to O’Neil Park to take on the Bloomington Bobcats in a doubleheader starting at 5:00 p.m. You can catch live coverage from both games as Ryan Zimmerman will deliver the play-by-play call on the Crestwood Panthers Broadcasting Network.