By: Jon Zaghloul
Crestwood, Ill. – July 6, 2020 – For the first three innings in Monday’s matchup against the DuPage County Hounds, the Crestwood Panthers looked to be in control. Lawrence Noble (Coppin State / Chicago, Ill.) had already driven in two runs via a triple, and starting pitcher Andrew Farbak (Purdue University-Northwest / New Lenox, Ill.) was in the midst of a masterful performance, as he continuously kept Hounds hitters off balance. In the end, however, DuPage County struck for 11 runs across the game’s final six innings, and, in turn, handed the Panthers a 12-3 loss.
Following Farbak’s exit, the Crestwood bullpen accounted for eight earned runs, while also issuing five walks in the process. The team’s struggles on the mound proved to be the game’s true difference-maker, according to manager Isaac Valdez.
“Unfortunately, we just couldn’t get it done on the back end today,” said Valdez. “Guys struggled getting their secondary pitches over for strikes, and when that happens, you become a one-pitch pitcher. That’s when you typically start getting into trouble.”
At the plate, the Panthers displayed further improvement in their approach, as the team collectively hit .200 (7/35). Ray Hilbrich (Purdue University-Northwest / Schererville, Ind.) recorded an impressive three-hit performance, boosting his batting average to a sizzling .417. Additionally, Reggie Brock (Chicago State / Chicago, Ill.), Tim Fauth (North Park University / Elk Grove Village, Ill.), and Kevin Coe (Eastern Kentucky University / Chicago, Ill.) all added hits in the loss. Valdez believes that with more games, Crestwood’s expected offensive prowess will become more prominent.
“We’re still struggling with our timing, and I anticipate that that’s going to be the case for the first seven to ten days,” said Valdez. “It’s just a matter of getting our reps in. Sure, we might struggle for a few more games, but once we snap out of it, we’re just going to have to take the season week-by-week.”
That being said, it’s important to note that certain players, the likes of which include Brock, Hilbrich, and Fauth, are already contributing consistent offensive numbers. As more Panthers begin to get acclimated with live pitching, Valdez knows that the hitting will become contagious.
“I believe that this will be contagious,” said Valdez. “You know, we got a couple of guys hot today, and if we can do that again, then I believe that very, very soon, the whole team will start to hit.”
Crestwood’s season continues on Tuesday, as they are set to face off against the Joliet Generals at legendary Howie Minas Field. Coverage starts at 3 P.M. on the Panthers’ Broadcast Network, available via Facebook Live.
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