05/30/2018 7:04 PM -
Chicago Heights, Ill. – May 29, 2018 – After their disastrous start to the Midwest Collegiate League campaign, the Crestwood Panthers battled back and played a thrilling game against the MCL defending champion Southland Vikings.
After the end of the 10th inning, the umpires suspended play due to darkness with the game tied at 6. Southland jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on four doubles from Dashon Moore (South Suburban/Dolton, Ill.), Dylan Smith (Kishwaukee CC/Farina, Ill.), Gerald Powell (UI Springfield/Chicago, Ill.), and Victor Perez (Heartland CC/Gurnee, Ill.), as well as a Logan Anderson (South Suburban/Chicago, Ill.) single.
From then on, Panthers starter Christian Poulsen (Harper College/Schaumburg, Ill.) did not give up another run. Poulsen went 5 more innings, only allowing two more hits, walking one, striking out six.
“It just felt like after that first inning I was able to get a better feel for my slider,” Poulsen said after the game. “I was leaving my fastballs over the plate during that first inning, and from then on I was executing my game plan a lot better and hitting my spots rather than just trying to throw.”
Crestwood would score their first run off of Vikings starting pitcher Justin Ruthrauff (Mesa CC/Chicago, Ill.) in the fourth inning when a Brian Vance (Saint Joseph’s (Pa.)/Chicago, Ill.) scored Evan Bell (Memphis/Oak Park, Ill.). The Panthers would get two more off Vikings reliever Gil Loza (Moraine Valley CC/Burbank, Ill.) in the sixth inning following a Michael Jahnke (Coe College/Lansing, Ill.) two-run double which scored Vance and Cole Blatchford (Air Force Academy/Highlands Ranch, Colo.), who both reached on walks.
It was the eighth inning that would prove decisive for the Panthers as they would take their first lead of the game when Reggie Brock, Jr. (Chicago State/Chicago, Ill.) entered the game to pinch hit for Shane Peisker (John A. Logan College/Hammond, Ind.), who promptly delivered with a long two-run double off Vikings reliever Kyle Hallberg (South Suburban/Lansing, Ill.), scoring Blatchford and Jahnke.
Brock would later score after advancing on two consecutive wild pitches, giving the Panthers a 6-4 lead.
Panthers manager Isaac Valdez was very pleased with Brock’s efforts off the bench.
“Shane played an excellent game up until he was pinch-hit, I could not be happier with the game he had, he had some incredible plays in left field today. I just had a gut feeling about Reggie,” Valdez said. “Before the inning started, I went up to him and told him, ‘Be ready. If Shane’s spot comes up in the order I’m going to you.’ Thankfully, he was able to come through and he made me look good.”
However, the Panthers lead was short lived, as two consecutive hit batsmen by Panthers reliever Justin Ruehl (Benedictine/Chicago, Ill.) and a bunt single by Vikings second baseman Nick McAlister (South Suburban/Homewood, Ill.) with a throwing error on the play by Panthers second baseman Maurey Garrett (Heartland CC/Flossmoor, Ill.) promptly tied the game at 6. Cole Blatchford would forfeit his designated hitter position to relieve Ruehl on the mound and prevent any more Vikings from crossing the plate for three innings, taking the game to the 6-6 tie it remains.
Valdez was very pleased with his team’s effort in their second game of the season as they looked more comfortable playing together and transitioned into playing baseball every day once again.
“It was a complete 180 from game one,” said Valdez. “I sent all the guys a text yesterday telling them to flush game one down the drain and focus on tomorrow, and they just felt a lot looser and more refreshed today. The first few games is all about knocking off the initial rust and getting back into the flow of daily baseball, and it really looked like it was falling off today.”
Valdez was quick to note the team chemistry starting to form early on.
“There was a lot of noise coming from the dugout today, it seemed like the guys were really starting to feel like a team. The energy was there, and just sensing from this game, these guys are excited to be teammates and have a good time playing in the MCL,” Valdez said.
The conclusion of this game will take place ahead of the Panthers’ next trip to Hap Bruno Field on June 9th.
They will finish that game one hour before their scheduled matchup at 1:00 PM. Crestwood returns to action Wednesday, May 30 at 6 p.m. CT as the Panthers travel downstate to take on the Bloomington Bobcats at O’Neil Park in Bloomington, Ill.
Ryan Zimmerman will be on the call on the Panthers Broadcasting Network, available for the first time this season on IBM Cloud Video. You can catch the live broadcast here: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/FknRvbJpKjH