07/27/2019 3:02 PM -
Crestwood, Ill. – July 27, 2019 – Following an impressive, team-oriented victory on Friday night in Bloomington, the Panthers displayed signs of fatigue on Saturday afternoon. With it being Crestwood's sixth game in their past six days, the roster had been depleted, and the pitching situation, in particular, was sparse. Thus, with limited options both on the mound, and in the field, the Panthers endured a tough matchup against the Northwest Indiana Oilmen, ultimately losing 13-2.
In Crestwood's case, however, the game did begin on a promising note. After the Oilmen took an initial two-run lead in the second inning, Tim Fauth (North Park University / Elk Grove, Ill.) launched a menacing two-run home run to deep left field, providing an early offensive spark, and fostering a competitive battle between both teams. Although Fauth's home run accounted for the Panthers' only two runs, Nick Doman (Butler University / Chicago, Ill.) recorded a monstrous game at the plate, contributing both a triple and double, while Ray Hilbrich (Purdue University-Northwest / Schererville, Ind.) also added two hits of his own. Unfortunately, it was all for naught, as Crestwood failed to string together more runs off of Doman and Hilbrich's excellent individual performances.
"When you're down a lot, and you know that you have a lot of work to do ahead of you to catch up, that adds some pressure on the offense and makes matters worse," said Panthers Manager Isaac Valdez. "We didn't strike out a whole lot, we put the ball in play, and we had some sharp shots right at people, but we just couldn't get things going today."
On the mound, the Panthers' scant pitching situation forced an unlikely spot start from Ryan Evans (Wisconsin Lutheran / Chicago, Ill.). Usually a reliever who lasts two innings at most, Evans provided a gutsy six-inning start, scattering 13 hits and five earned runs. In the end, Evans threw an astounding 123 pitches, but managed to provide Crestwood with some much-needed pitching help in a pinch. Third baseman Mike Machnic (Kankakee CC / Chicago, Ill.) would enter the game in relief, twirling one scoreless inning, adding two strikeouts.
"Evans ate up some innings for us, and did a good job today," said Valdez. "Unfortunately, the defense didn't help him out, and that made him throw more pitches than he needed to. That put him in some tough situations that he struggled to get out of, but he did eat up some valuable innings for us today."
Defensively speaking, the Panthers committed four errors, leading to eight unearned runs scored off of Evans. The bulk of the damage came during the fourth inning, where the Oilmen struck for eight runs at the expense of two costly Crestwood errors. Valdez was short, yet prudent in his summation of the entirety of Saturday's game.
"It was just a game to kind of flush all around."
The Panthers will look to get back into the win column tomorrow, as they host the DuPage County Hounds to conclude their stretch of seven games in seven days. Coverage begins at 1 p.m. with Jon Zaghloul on the Panthers' Broadcast Network, available via Facebook Live.