07/15/2021 1:22 PM -
Crestwood, Ill. – July 15, 2021 – For six innings on Wednesday night, the Crestwood Panthers (12-13) and Northwest Indiana Oilmen (16-5) were stuck at a 1-0 score.
Starting pitchers Michael Laudondo (Rockhurst University / Westchester, Ill.) of Crestwood and Matt Lelito of Northwest Indiana continuously traded blows, matching one another with each pitch thrown. Laudondo, in the end, cruised to seven strong innings of three-run baseball, walking just one Oilmen hitter, and posting an eye-popping 73 percent strike percentage.
That said, the Panthers’ struggles at the plate persisted, and the lack of run support for Laudondo resulted in a sound 7-0 defeat.
As a team, Crestwood managed to record just five hits, four of which coming from Maurey Garrett (University of Northwestern Ohio / Homewood, Ill.) and Dino Biggers (Illinois Wesleyan University / Naperville, Ill.). Laudondo, who also hit for himself in the contest, added one hit of his own.
“When you pitch that well, as Michael did for us, you expect to win,” manager Isaac Valdez said. “He worked very quick, got multiple pitches over for strikes on a consistent basis, and gave us a great chance to win. Unfortunately, we just couldn’t get that one big hit to get us over the top.”
The Panthers’ issues at the plate have become a prominent storyline over the past two weeks. In Crestwood’s last eight games, specifically, they have averaged just 3 1/2 runs scored, resulting in a 3-5 record. Valdez expressed concern about this trend, yet feels optimistic about his team’s chances heading into the All-Star break.
“We’ve just been struggling at the plate, and I think that’s forced us to press more than we need to,” Valdez said. “Somebody has to step up, relax everybody, and get us going. We have the talent to turn it around, and once we get more guys healthy, we’ll be able to get a jolt for the stretch run.”
The Panthers will return to action on Thursday evening, as they oppose the Chicago American Giants from Gouwens Park. Coverage begins at 7:00 P.M. on the Panthers’ Broadcast Network, available via Facebook Live.