By: Jon Zaghloul
Crestwood, Ill. – July 8, 2020 – Through the first four innings of Wednesday’s matchup between the Crestwood Panthers and MCL Minutemen, starting pitchers Eddie Wilkins (University of Illinois-Springfield / Braidwood, Ill.) and Jeremiah Williams (South Suburban College / Calumet City, Ill.) were engaged in an ultra-competitive pitcher’s duel. Each starter had matched the other in earned runs allowed, hits allowed, walks, and strikeouts. In the fifth inning, however, fielding woes began to plague the Panthers, and within two innings, the team had allowed four unearned runs en route to a 8-2 loss.
Crestwood made two errors in that three-run fifth inning, ending what was a strong start from Wilkins. Then, in relief, Breven Daugherity (Chicago State / Joliet, Ill.) made his season debut, but also saw it cut short due to the Panthers’ troubles in the field. Manager Isaac Valdez was proud of his pitchers’ performances throughout the game, but acknowledged the issues that arose behind them.
“Eddie was much-improved from his first outing, and Breven showed off some flashes here today,” said Valdez. “Brady Miller (Western Michigan / Plainfield, Ill.) also made his debut, and did a great job in a limited capacity. But, other than that, it wasn’t a pretty game from our side. We need to make the basic plays, and it just wasn’t our day.”
Had Crestwood kept its error count at bay, the game’s end result could have turned out much different. Subtracting the six errors and four unearned runs from the equation would have given the Panthers a much better opportunity to make a comeback. That, Valdez professed, is an encouraging sign moving forward.
“You know, if we were just able to make the basic plays, this would have been a very tight game,” said Valdez. “It could have been an entirely different story had we done that, and I know we’ll continue to get better moving forward.”
At the plate, Crestwood was unable to rekindle the magic that sparked their ten-run shutout victory against the Joliet Generals on Tuesday. Reggie Brock (Chicago State / Chicago, Ill.) single-handedly recorded three of the Panthers’ five total hits, while outfielder Lawrence Noble (Coppin State / Chicago, Ill.) and second baseman Kevin Coe (Eastern Kentucky / Chicago, Ill.) each added one hit apiece. That being said, Valdez was not pleased with his team’s overall approach from the plate.
“We need to be more selective at the plate,” said Valdez. “I thought we swung at too many pitcher’s pitches, and we didn’t make their starter work enough early on. We want to build up some more consistency there, but there were still some positive signs. We just need to be more consistent.”
The Panthers will have another opportunity to build off their first win tomorrow, as they head to Dowling Park to oppose the Southland Vikings. Coverage begins at 5 P.M. on the Vikings’ Broadcast Network, available via Facebook Live.
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