07/21/2021 8:21 PM -
Crestwood, Ill. – July 21, 2021 – Wednesday night’s matchup between the Crestwood Panthers (14-14) and Southland Vikings (12-17) looked as if it would be decided early.
The Panthers had jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead, stranding the bases loaded two times in the game’s first three innings. They seemed poised to not only break things open, but dominate the Vikings en route to their third-straight win. Instead, however, Crestwood’s offensive output took a sharp decline, and, in the end, proved to be a problem late, as they fell 6-4 to Southland.
Scoring began early for the Panthers, as Ronald Applewhite (Culver-Stockton College / Chicago, Ill.) and Gannon Andrews (Purdue University Northwest / Portage, Mich.) each mashed RBI singles in the game’s opening frame. Also, in the second, Sean Lynch (Eastern Illinois / Indian Creek, Ill.) reached base on an error, yet recorded an RBI, plating Gabe Halaby (University of Chicago / Monument, Colo.).
That said, Crestwood would only go on to score one more run through the game’s final six innings via an Applewhite inside-the-park home run. The Panthers’ offense left a season-high 13 runners on base, hurting them in the late innings as Southland mounted a comeback.
“We have to be more selective at the plate early on,” manager Isaac Valdez said. “When we have less than one strike or two strikes, we can’t be swinging and missing at pitcher’s pitches. That’s what leaves runners on base, and it’s been a problem for us all season long.”
On the mound, MCL All-Star Michael Laudondo (Rockhurst University / Westchester, Ill.) pitched five strong innings of four-run baseball, striking out three and walking four. In relief, Peyton Olejnik (Triton College / Cedar Lake, Ind.) lasted three innings, allowing just one run, but walking five. Valdez was pleased with both pitchers’ outings, but emphasized the importance of limiting free passes moving forward.
“Michael pitched well enough to win, but we didn’t help him out offensively,” Valdez said. “Peyton did a good job at limiting damage late. As a staff, though, we need to pound the zone more if we want better results.”
Crestwood will be back in action on Thursday afternoon, as they oppose the Joliet Generals from Riverside Park. Coverage begins at 5:00 P.M. on the Panthers’ Broadcast Network, available via Facebook Live.