06/15/2021 8:50 PM -
Crestwood, Ill. – June 15, 2021 – Entering the third inning of Tuesday’s matchup against the Northwest Indiana Oilmen (6-4), the Crestwood Panthers (7-7) trailed by one run, and possessed multiple opportunities to firmly take control. Unfortunately, however, a plethora of strikeouts and walks bogged down a valiant last-ditch comeback effort, leading to a 10-6 defeat.
Offensively, the Panthers could not find a rhythm against Oilmen starting pitcher Matt Lelito. Crestwood recorded 12 strikeouts as a team, while also leaving nine runners on base. Chazz Clark (Xavier University of Louisiana / Chicago, Ill.) and Sean Lynch (Eastern Illinois / Indian Creek, Ill.) posted multi-hit performances, though, and Gannon Andrews (Purdue University-Northwest / Portage, Mich.) and CJ Deshazer (Oakton CC / Schaumburg, Ill.) added two RBIs apiece. Manager Isaac Valdez was pleased with his team’s never-say-die attitude, especially in the game’s final innings.
“It’s great how they fought back,” Valdez said. “They kept on swinging and kept us in the game until the very end. They chose not to die, and that’s a great sign. I respect them for doing that.”
On the mound, starter Richie Lacien (Lawrence University / New Lenox, Ill.) dealt four strong innings, limiting the Oilmen to four runs, while notching seven strikeouts. And, in relief, usual infielder Kevin Coe Jr. (Eastern Kentucky / Chicago, Ill.) pitched three shutout innings, allowing the Panthers to mount a sustained comeback late in the game.
“That was a great performance by Kevin,” Valdez said. “He really kept us in the game and stepped up when we needed help. That said, we need our regular pitchers to be our best pitchers, not our position guys to be our best pitchers. That trend needs to change immediately.”
Crestwood issued six walks in the loss, plus hit three batters. Nevertheless, they came within four runs of tying the game. And, being at .500 through 14 games is a position that Valdez says he can take pride in moving forward.
“We aren’t in a horrible position,” Valdez said. “We just need to see how quickly our guys can transition to this game. My goal is to help in speeding up this transition, and getting them used to college-level baseball. We are very athletic and talented, so it’s just a matter of how quickly these guys could translate their game to this new level.”
The Panthers will return to action on Thursday evening, as they oppose the Southland Vikings from Dowling Park. Coverage begins at 5 P.M. on the Vikings’ Broadcast Network, available via Facebook Live.