07/17/2021 4:02 PM -
Crestwood, Ill. – July 17, 2021 – It was another game and another comeback for the Crestwood Panthers (14-13) on Saturday afternoon.
After surrendering four first-inning runs to the MCL Minutemen (5-17), Crestwood tallied eight unanswered runs of their own, winning the matchup 8-4.
The Panthers began their comeback attempt in the bottom of the first, as Ronald Applewhite (Culver-Stockton College / Chicago, Ill.) recorded a sacrifice groundout. Then, with no outs and two on in the second, Kevin Coe Jr. (Eastern Kentucky University / Chicago, Ill.) launched a majestic home run to right-center field, tying the game at four, and giving Crestwood a much-needed offensive spark.
“Kevin’s home run was key for us,” Panthers manager Isaac Valdez said. “He got on top of that baseball, and really squared it up. That definitely changed the game.”
The game would stand at a 4-4 draw until the sixth, when Tyler Struck (Murray State College / Orland Park, Ill.), with two outs and two runners on base, drove a double down the left field line, plating what would be the go-ahead run. After two more runs scored via wild pitches, Gannon Andrews (Purdue University Northwest / Portage, Mich.) tacked on an extra insurance run with an RBI single.
“Our situational hitting has improved significantly over the past week,” Valdez said. “And now, I have a sense that these guys are starting to lock in a little bit. They’re getting better at-bats and better swings. I really think we’re starting to hit our stride, offensively.”
On the mound, Keagan Bobbitt (Uncommitted / New Lenox, Ill.) allowed no earned runs through four innings of work, striking out seven Minutemen hitters in the process. Malek Mostafa (Elmhurst University / Westmont, Ill.) then dealt three shutout innings in relief, adding five strikeouts against just two walks. Valdez was especially pleased with his team’s pitching performance, and credited both Bobbitt and Mostafa for managing the strike zone well.
“Keagan threw strikes and made some really good pitches in timely situations,” Valdez said. “He really did a great job in keeping them at four early on. And, Malek did what he’s been doing all season for us today. He continued to throw strikes, got guys out efficiently, and helped us win another game.”
Crestwood will head into the All-Star break at 13-12, good enough for fourth place in the MCL standings. For reference, this is the best record the Panthers have ever posted before the MCL All-Star Game.
“I’m very pleased to get two wins in a row before the All-Star break,” Valdez said. “And, once we can get the bats going a bit more, we’re going to have a dangerous lineup.”
The Panthers’ next game will be on Wednesday, July 21st, as they oppose the Southland Vikings from Dowling Park. Coverage begins at 5:05 P.M. on the Panthers’ Broadcast Network, available via Facebook Live.