07/17/2023 6:34 PM
Griffith, IN- July 15- The Panthers had their second doubleheader out of the three this week Saturday against the Generals. The Generals were red hot coming off of several wins against the Oilmen and the Panthers were looking to stop a losing skid.
The Panthers struck first in the first inning as RBI machine Kevin Bushnell came through with a sacrifice fly.
The Generals answered right back off of Panthers starter Jorge Santos. The Generals tied it with a sac-fly of their own. The Generals scored five more after that all off of Santos. Santos went only a little over three innings and walked four while allowing all six Generals runs.
Beau Polickey got his heavy workload started by coming in relief for the remainder of the seven inning game. He kept the Generals scoreless and only allowed one hit. Polickey also collected a hit in his eventful night.
Damon Brena joined Jason Krol as the only two Panthers to have two hits on the night when he doubled to make it 6-2 in the sixth.
The Panthers threatened in the seventh, but were only able to get one off of another Kevin Bushnell sacrifice fly to bring in Alonzo Raigosa.
The Panthers had more hits and played perfect in the field, but were still unable to snap their losing streak. With this loss, the Panthers were in danger of losing their fifth in a row and continuing to fall out of the fourth place playoff spot.
All-Star pitcher Adan Vega got the start for the second game. He got offensive help the whole game as the Panthers put up a three spot in the first inning.
A couple base runners got on for George Bilecki. The at-bat did not get off to an ideal start as Caleb Deel got ahead 0-2 on the Panther all-star. Bilecki worked it to a full count and fouled off numerous pitches to extend the at-bat. What looked like a situation where Bilecki was just looking for some contact turned into a mammoth home run that gave the Panthers a 3-0 lead.
“My first thought was just simplifying my swing and to do a job with a runner on third and less than 2 outs. I got down 0-2 early and fouled off multiple pitches. There were a bunch of pitches in the at-bat actually. But I knew I saw every pitch he had and was confident enough in myself to hit everything he had. I got a good pitch to hit and put a good swing on it and it went” recalled Bilecki on one of the league’s better at-bats of the season.
Vega allowed one in the second, but the Panthers added more insurance in the third after a huge two out, two RBI single from Gabe Cortez.
Bilecki picked up another RBI and Kevin Bushnell drove in one with a single to make it 7-1 in the fourth. Bushnell went 2-2 on the night with two RBIs and drove in Jason Krol with a single in the fourth.
The top of the lineup gave the Generals nightmares as Polickey, Krol, Bilecki, and Bushnell all made a major impact. Jason Krol is the one guy who has not played as consistently, but since recently joining the Panthers, he has done nothing but hit and has been a guy Deandre Gilmore can rely on when he is available.
Krol went 2-4 in the first game and 3-5 in the second. Anyone or anything the Generals threw at Krol, he found a way to hit it hard. Krol explained how his simple “up the middle" approach has worked for him over the years and is the reason he is having immense immediate success with his new team.
“My approach stays the same regardless of who I am facing. I always try to hit the ball up the middle or the other way and hit it hard wherever I hit it.”
Krol also credited George Bilecki and emphasized how impactful a player and teammate he is. Krol knows this more than anyone as the two just finished another season together at Lewis University.
“George is a really fun guy to be around. In college, I learned he is a big jokester. He always lightens the mood for his teammates and especially for me when I tend to be hard on myself. Hitting back-to-back in the lineup today was pretty cool.”
Even with the run support, Vega struggled to throw strikes. This showed in the fourth as he gave three runs right back due to some walks. Vega walked eight guys in his four innings of work. This eventually resulted in a no-decision.
Beau Polickey came in relief again as cruised through the Generals' order initially. The
Generals picked up several runs in the seventh to tie it at seven. He was able to escape a jam to preserve the chance of winning.
The Panthers picked up two huge runs in the eighth. They picked up their first via an error and the second of the inning off of another Kevin Bushnell sac-fly.
Polickey took the eighth and allowed one, but eventually gutted out the last couple of outs. Polickey was rewarded with a win and a save in the 9-8 Panthers victory.