07/10/2021 8:23 PM -
Crestwood, Ill. – July 10, 2021 – After a 45-minute first inning that saw the Chicago American Giants (11-9) tally seven runs, hopes for a much-needed Crestwood Panthers (12-12) victory became bleak, at best.
In typical Panther fashion, however, a valiant comeback was mounted. And, at one point, Crestwood had trailed by just four runs following the initial 7-0 deficit. Unfortunately, though, the Panthers were no match for the Giants’ offensive explosion, and lost 18-5 on Saturday afternoon.
Crestwood got on the board early, as Ronald Applewhite (Culver-Stockton College / Chicago, Ill.) crushed a two-run home run to left-center field, plating Hayden Matulich (Purdue University-Northwest / San Jose, Calif.). Tyler Struck (Murray State College / Orland Park, Ill.) then added an RBI double, and allowed the Panthers to chase only four runs entering the third inning.
Then, the American Giants’ bats caught fire, as they took advantage of inconsistent Crestwood pitching. The Panthers walked a total of 10 Giants’ hitters, plus surrendered 14 hits in the loss. Manager Isaac Valdez was not pleased with his team’s performance on the mound, and called on his pitchers to focus on throwing more strikes moving forward.
“All season, we’ve had trouble throwing strikes consistently,” Valdez said. “It’s not fun to watch guys just stand at the plate and advance. That’s just been a pattern all year, and we need that to change if we want to get to the next level as a team.”
The Panthers’ early offensive successes would end up taking a troubling turn, as the team scratched across just two more runs over the game’s final three innings. Gabe Halaby (University of Chicago / Monument, Colo.) was responsible for one of those runs, as he launched an opposite-field home run to bring Crestwood to within six. Valdez was particularly proud of the homer, and praised Halaby’s ability to make an in-game adjustment at the plate.
“I was very impressed by Gabe’s home run because he hit it to right-center,” Valdez said. “He made an adjustment and let the ball get deep. He gave himself a chance to square the baseball up, and executed perfectly.”
The Panthers, despite the loss, still occupy the fourth and final playoff spot in the MCL standings. That said, Valdez is concerned about his team’s recent play, and wonders what their future will be if their results do not change.
“We’re in big trouble right now,” Valdez said. “We certainly, in the past two weeks, haven’t looked like a playoff team, and if this trend continues, we don’t deserve to be a playoff team. We need to improve on both the pitching side and the hitting side, and that’s not a good recipe for success.”
Crestwood will look to avoid a third-straight loss on Sunday afternoon, as they oppose the Joliet Generals from Lansing Old Timers Field. Coverage begins at 1:00 P.M. on the Panthers’ Broadcast Network, available via Facebook Live.