By: Jon Zaghloul
Joliet, Ill. – June 3, 2019 – Following two deflating losses against the DuPage County Hounds on Sunday afternoon, the Crestwood Panthers were prepared to make substantial improvements in lieu of their next matchup. And in a game against the Joliet Generals on Monday night, one in which Crestwood led 6-5 entering the ninth inning, before losing 7-6 in walk-off fashion, the Panthers evidently took significant strides in the right direction.
For starters, a redesigned approach at the plate prompted the team to post an impressive .303 (10/23) batting average, which easily surpasses a collective .184 mark in their four prior games. Leading the charge was Nick Anderson (Kankakee CC / Highland, Ind.) who recorded two doubles, two runs scored, and one walk in five plate appearances. Maurey Garrett (Heartland CC / Flossmoor, Ill.) also added a clutch, three-RBI single in the seventh inning, pushing the Panthers back into potential winning territory.
"Offensively, we did a much better job today," Manager Issac Valdez professed. "This was obviously our best offensive performance by far, and I think the bats are starting to come around. The guys are seeing more pitches, and it looks to me like the timing is there... the swings look better. And considering that we didn't have our two top hitters in the lineup today, it was great to put up the numbers that we did."
Despite the much-needed offensive progression, the Panthers' chances would have been quashed without the gutsy pitching performance delivered by Breven Daugherity (Chicago State / Chicago, Ill.). After entering the game in relief of Ethen Otstott (Prairie State / Oak Forest, Ill.), Daugherity twirled 5.1 innings of three-run baseball, adding five strikeouts against two walks, while holding onto a one-run Crestwood lead through the ninth inning.
"I thought Breven did a phenomenal job tonight," stated Valdez. "I know he was running on fumes at the end, but he did such a great job keeping us in the game."
Closing the game proved to be difficult for Crestwood, however, as a game-tying triple in the ninth inning set the stage for a walk-off single by Ty Castillo. Although today's contest produced a difficult ending for the Panthers, it showcased the team's competitive ability. Valdez further echoed that sentiment after the game.
"We looked the most crisp today, and that's only going to improve. I see consistency coming right around the corner. And now, I've seen every pitcher throw, with the exception of a couple of guys still playing. So now, I'm going to have a very good idea of who can start, who can relieve, and how long they can go. I think we're in a good spot right now, and I know better days are to come."
The Panthers will be back in action on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. at Howie Minas Field in Midlothian, Ill. against the Southland Vikings. Jon Zaghloul and Will Trubshaw will have the call on the Panthers Broadcasting Network, which is available via Facebook Live.
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