06/19/2021 3:18 PM -
Crestwood, Ill. – June 19, 2021 – Through three innings on Saturday, both the Crestwood Panthers (8-8) and the Chicago American Giants (7-4) stood at a scoreless tie.
Justin Schassburger (Anderson University / Dyer, Ind.) was going toe-to-toe with Giants southpaw Will McManaman, trading countless strikeouts, and maintaining a thrilling pitcher’s duel. In the end, however, the American Giants capitalized late, scoring three runs off two Panther errors in the eighth inning en route to a 6-2 victory.
Entering the frame, Crestwood had trailed 3-1 and looked primed to make another fateful comeback. Unfortunately, though, after seeing the lead-off batter reach via a botched dropped third strike, American Giants’ first baseman Lee Hodges launched a two-RBI triple into left field. He would later score on the same play after a fielding error in the outfield.
The Panthers did mount a comeback attempt in the top of the ninth, plating one run and stranding two runners in scoring position, but it was not enough to overcome the eighth inning mistakes. Manager Isaac Valdez credited his team’s fighting spirit, and their overall play in spite of the late miscues.
“It was a great pitching duel today,” Valdez said. “We played very clean baseball until the bottom of the eighth. At the plate, though, they really kept us off balance and we just couldn’t make the adjustment. They did a great job.”
Schassburger, in total, dealt six strong innings, allowing just two earned runs to complement eight strikeouts. In relief, Michael Laudando (Rockhurst University / Westchester, Ill.) added two scoreless innings along with five strikeouts. Both pitchers did not walk one batter and maintained strike percentages above 70 percent. Valdez was quite impressed with both of their performances, along with their ability to keep Crestwood in the game.
“They both pumped strikes and kept their hitters off-balance,” Valdez said. “When you pitch that well, you expect to win. They did such a great job today.”
At the plate, the Panthers managed just three hits, one apiece from Sean Lynch (Eastern Illinois / Indian Creek, Ill.), Chazz Clark (Xavier University of Louisiana / Chicago, Ill) and Riley Beck (Purdue University-Northwest / Cedar Rapids, Iowa). Valdez acknowledged the Giants’ pitching successes, but also mentioned a need for improvement with his team’s hitting.
“You just have to tip your cap to their pitching staff,” Valdez said. “Their starting pitcher had A+ stuff today. That said, we have not hit well the past five days, with the exception of one game. We have to do a better job of putting the bat on the ball, and forcing the defense to make plays.”
The Panthers will be back in action on Monday afternoon, as they oppose the Chicago American Giants from Riverside Park. Coverage begins at 5 P.M. on the Panthers’ Broadcast Network, available via Facebook Live.