08/11/2021 8:30 PM -
Crestwood, Ill. – August 11, 2021 – After trailing 5-0 in the first inning, it looked as if the Crestwood Panthers’ fate had already been sealed.
They had already defeated the Joliet Generals on Tuesday night, and stood just one win away from their first-ever MCL Championship appearance. That said, early on, a potential win-or-go-home Game Three was already on the minds of many.
Crestwood, though, mounted an impressive comeback that culminated in an 8-8 tie entering the ninth inning. In the end, however, the Panthers were unable to come out on top, falling 11-8 to the Generals in 10 innings.
Following the 5-0 deficit, Crestwood began to chip away, scoring three runs in the second via a Michael Laudondo (Rockhurst University / Westchester, Ill.) two-RBI single, and a Ronald Applewhite (Culver-Stockton College / Chicago, Ill.) RBI single. Hayden Matulich kept the deficit at two runs in the fourth with another RBI single, before the Generals struck for two more runs. Entering the seventh inning, the score stood at 8-4.
Then, in typical Panther fashion, the valiant comeback began. Gannon Andrews (Purdue University Northwest / Portage, Mich.) posted an RBI groundout, and Sean Lynch (Eastern Illinois / Indian Creek, Ill.) added a majestic RBI double. In the eighth, Crestwood completed the comeback courtesy of another Matulich RBI single, and a two-out base-hit by Andrews.
“Our offense kept us in the game today,” manager Isaac Valdez said. “That’s been the case for us all season, and we saw that happen again in this one. Unfortunately, we made too many mistakes, and didn’t play smart enough to win.”
The Panthers sat just 90 feet from advancing to the MCL Championship, as, in the ninth, they stranded runners at first and third to end the inning. Joliet would go on to take advantage, striking for three runs in the tenth, then shutting down Crestwood in order to end the game.
On the mound, Keagan Bobbitt (Uncommitted / New Lenox, Ill.) proved to be the team’s top arm, dealing six innings of one-run baseball in relief. He recorded six strikeouts against just one walk, and continued to keep the Panthers within striking distance. Crestwood’s three errors, and various mental mistakes, though, got in the way of a pivotal win.
“We beat ourselves, and we didn’t play smart,” Valdez said. “We had a lot of physical errors and just as many mental errors. It’s a game that we certainly should have won, and hopefully, we’ll be better tomorrow.”
Every player in the Panthers’ starting lineup garnered at least one hit, with Coe, Applewhite, Matulich, Lynch, Andrews, Andrew Tenison (Benedictine University / Orland Park, Ill.) and Tyler Struck (Murray State College / Orland Park, Ill.) each amassing two hits or more. Crestwood’s offensive explosion will need to be present in Game Three in order to make further history.
“If we continue to hit like we did today, and pump the strike zone, it’ll be a very competitive game,” Valdez said. “We just need to make a couple of adjustments, and we should be in good shape come Game Three.”
The Panthers and Generals will face off on Thursday afternoon for the decisive third game of this MCL Semifinals series. Coverage begins at 4:10 p.m. from Oil City Stadium, and can be accessed via the Panthers’ Broadcast Network on Facebook Live.