06/06/2018 12:30 AM -
Midlothian, Ill. – June 5, 2018 – The Panthers had plenty of opportunities, but their lack of timely hitting proved costly as they dropped a heartbreaker to the Bloomington Bobcats 3-2.
The game’s starting pitchers, Ethan Klay (Lincoln Land CC/Springfield, Ill.) and Nick Brune (Illinois Wesleyan/Mundelein, Ill.) matched each other pitch for pitch as they both turned in excellent starts for their respective teams. Both starters would depart with impressive stat lines after 6.1 innings pitched, as Klay would allow two hits and two walks, striking out seven while allowing two earned runs. Brune would scatter seven hits and four walks, striking out eight and allowing one earned run in a winning effort.
“Ethan was outstanding today,” Panthers manager Isaac Valdez said. “I spoke with him yesterday and earlier today about our game plan on how to pitch these Bobcats hitters yesterday, and he executed it very well.”
After issuing a walk to Bobcats leadoff hitter Sam Olson (Heartland CC/Dowling, Iowa) to open the game, Klay would go on to retire the next 17 hitters he faced and take a no-hitter into the seventh inning. Olson would later lead off the seventh with a single to end the no-hit bid and spark a three-run Bobcats rally.
“I wasn’t thinking about a no-hitter while I was pitching,” Klay said. “I was going about the game normally and just pitching. I felt really good today, I wasn’t as amped up as I was in my first outing and felt a lot more comfortable on the mound, which helped me get in a groove out there.”
Following the Olson single, Klay would walk Levi Ransom (Heartland CC/Pontiac, Ill.). Chris Monroe (UI-Springfield/Champaign, Ill.) laid down a sacrifice bunt which led to an Austin Alderman (UI-Springfield/Springfield, Ill.) two-run single. He would score on a Pat McGowan (Kalamazoo Valley CC/Frankfort, Ill.) error on the ensuing play.
Dan Cryan (South Suburban/Orland Park, Ill.) would enter the game in relief of Klay and retire the next two hitters, holding the Bobcats to three runs. He would go on to pitch the eighth and ninth innings, holding the Bobcats scoreless.
“Dan turned in an outstanding performance on the mound,” Panthers manager Isaac Valdez said. “He has two curveballs, and he had both of them working tonight. He entered the game in a tough spot and pitched beautifully, he really kept us in the game.”
The Panthers would respond in the bottom of the seventh, scoring two runs with the bases loaded when Will Thomas (Alcorn State/South Holland, Ill.) reached on an error and Christian Poulsen (Maryville College/Schaumburg, Ill.) singled to right field. After that, however, Bobcats reliever Zach Frey (Indiana State/Normal, Ill.) shut the door on the Panthers lineup and pitched a shutout eighth and ninth innings en route to a save.
Continuing a trend that has hurt the Panthers all season long, they were not able to get the key hits to win the game. The Panthers outhit their opponent for the second game in a row, as they outhit the Bobcats 8-2, but still managed to leave 10 runners on base. Additionally, the Panthers advanced runners into scoring position in six separate innings.
“We’ve just been really unlucky in those situations,” Valdez said. “We’re making good contact, but we’re just hitting balls right at guys. With runners in scoring position, the hits just need to fall in, and they will in time.”
The Panthers continue searching for their first victory when they travel to Whiting tomorrow to take on the Northwest Indiana Oilmen at Oil City Stadium at 7:10 p.m. CT. According to Valdez, if the Panthers want to taste victory, they just have to keep doing what they’re doing.
“If we play like we did today, we’re going to start winning games,” he said. “The guys are improving and we’re playing a lot of close games. Our luck is going to turn really soon; we’re going to get hot.”
Tickets for tomorrow’s game are available at NWIOilmen.com. Check the Crestwood Panthers Facebook page for updates on how you can watch t