07/08/2018 12:15 AM -
Midlothian, Ill. – July 7, 2018 – The Crestwood Panthers could not get the job done as they were swept by the DuPage County Hounds in today’s doubleheader.
The Panthers held two-run leads during both games, but they could not put away the Hounds offense which came through when it mattered most.
In game one, both teams brought out the lumber, as they combined for 15 runs through the first 2 ½ innings. After the Panthers took a 7-5 at the end of the second inning, they looked set to hold on, but with the bases loaded and two outs, Chris Torres (Wabash Valley CC/Chesterton, Ind.) served up a three-run double to David Giuliano, to give the Hounds an 8-7 they would not relinquish.
The Hounds would get two more runs off all-star reliever Jackson Shepherd (Mesa CC/Channahon, Ill.), putting the game out of reach for the Panthers who could only muster one more run after their offensive outburst in the first two innings.
“We just have to do a little bit more of everything,” Panthers manager Isaac Valdez said. “It’s unfortunate we weren’t able to hang on, but we need to maximize our opportunities. If we want to win and succeed, we need to take advantage of every opportunity presented to us over the course of a ballgame. It’s getting better, the guys are proving they can thrive in difficult situations, now the goal is to finish these wins off.”
Game two looked to be winnable for the Panthers, as they held a two-run advantage heading into the sixth inning of play. Maurey Garrett (Heartland CC/Flossmoor, Ill.) opened the scoring with a bases-loaded RBI groundout in the first inning, but the Hounds would strike back right away with three unearned runs off starter Pat Mayo (Spring Hill College/Oak Lawn, Ill.) He would only go two innings and allow just those three runs, allowing two hits and walking none.
The Panthers tied the game in the third inning when Michael Jahnke (Coe College/Lansing, Ill.) ripped a two-run single into center field, and then took the lead one inning later following a Blake Soria (South Mountain CC/Homer Glen, Ill.) bloop single to right field. Reggie Brock (Chicago State/Chicago, Ill.) provided an insurance run in the fifth inning by hitting a two-out single to center to score Shane Peisker (John A. Logan College/Hammond, Ind.), giving the Panthers a 5-3 lead.
The Panthers looked to be in the driver’s seat with two innings left to play as they sent Ryan Green (Savannah State/Port Royal, S.C.) to the mound for his fourth inning of work. He took over for Mayo in the third inning and had faced just nine batters up to that point and gave up no runs. He proceeded to load the bases with one out, setting the stage for Wyell Woods to hit a single to right to tie the game. Green would strike out the next hitter and get David Gleaves into a full count, but Gleaves got a payoff pitch he liked, driving a three-run double to left-center field, pushing across the Hounds three go-ahead runs, sealing the Panthers fate.
Green would return to the mound to pitch a scoreless seventh inning, finishing his day on five innings of five-run ball, giving up six hits and two walks while striking out seven.
“Our pitchers just can't be afraid of their stuff,” Valdez said. “They can’t be afraid of getting early strikes or utilizing their defense. It looked like we threw a lot of strikes today, but we were susceptible to the big inning, and that’s what cost us today. That’s part of what we need to do going forward, in addition to maximizing our opportunities we need to minimize those for the opponent.”
Despite the two losses, there were a lot of positives for the Panthers offensively. Over the course of the two games they scored 13 runs, including runs in all but two innings of game two. Evan Bell (Memphis/Oak Park, Ill.) slugged his second home run of the season, tying Cole Blatchford (Air Force Academy/Highlands Ranch, Colo.) atop the team lead. Brock recorded four hits on the day while Bell had three. Jahnke drove in four runs, pushing his team-leading RBI total to 15.
“These guys are having a lot more confidence in themselves at the plate,” Valdez said. “They’ve been working hard in batting practice the last couple weeks, and it’s paying off as this is the best they’ve hit all season. We’re starting to see the benefits of changing their approach at the plate, looking to just put balls in play and keep the line moving, now we just need to keep improving.”
The Panthers return to Howie Minas Field tomorrow at noon as they look to grab a victory against the Southland Vikings. Ryan Zimmerman will have the play-by-play call on the Crestwood Panthers Broadcasting Network.