By: Jon Zaghloul
Crestwood, Ill. – July 9, 2020 – This was not the game, nor the outcome, that Vikings and Panthers players had expected.
Crestwood, entering Thursday’s tilt at 1-4, repeatedly contended for an upset victory over an undefeated Southland team. In fact, the Panthers had held two seemingly insurmountable leads throughout the contest, and then, maintained a tie leading up to the bottom half of the ninth inning. In the end, however, the Vikings capped off their second comeback bid with a Dashon Moore (University of Illinois-Springfield / South Holland, Ill.) walk-off single, beating the Panthers 10-9.
The action started in the game’s first inning, as Crestwood had struck for three runs against Vikings pitcher Jacob Kampf (Heartland CC / Lockport, Ill.). In the following frame, the Panthers miraculously added three more behind a Giovanni Lopez (College of DuPage / Saint John, Ind.) RBI triple, Ray Hilbrich (Purdue University-Northwest / Schererville, Ind.) sacrifice fly, and Tim Fauth (North Park University / Elk Grove Village, Ill.) RBI double.
By the fifth, though, the game had become tied at six. That’s when Andrew Tenison (Moraine Valley CC / Orland Park, Ill.) launched a long home run beyond the right field fence to regain Crestwood’s lead. The Panthers then struck for two more runs via consecutive RBI doubles from Brett Riegler (University of Chicago / Downers Grove, Ill.) and Donavan Noble (South Suburban College / Chicago, Ill.), which strengthened their advantage to three runs.
That second lead, however, would only stay intact for two more innings, and Moore’s eventual single would close the book on what was otherwise a resilient, all-around effort from the Crestwood squad.
“It was a very competitive game, so I’m proud of the guys for that,” said manager Isaac Valdez. “I believe that we’re getting there. I’m seeing it in batting practice and in games, and I can tell that these guys want to get there.”
The Panthers’ offensive attack proved to be much-improved, especially when compared to Wednesday’s loss versus the MCL Minutemen. The aforementioned Riegler led the team with three hits, Hilbrich and Lopez also recorded multi-hit games, and six players posted at least one run batted in. That stemmed, in part, from Valdez’s message to his hitters before the game.
“I just told them to be more selective and get their pitch early on in counts,” said Valdez. “And, I’ll take full credit for Tenison’s home run. Before his at-bat, I had told him to keep his backside in and ‘hit a home run.’ Sure enough, he did. So, maybe I need to say that to our eight other guys in the lineup.”
On the mound, Crestwood battled throughout, as starter Jacob Young (Fairmont State University / Lisle, Ill.) pitched four strong innings, and kept Vikings hitters at bay. Ryan McGrath (Moraine Valley CC / Oak Lawn, Ill.) also had a gutsy relief performance, allowing the Panthers to truly stay in the game until the final pitch.
“You know, the guys battled and kept us in the game,” said Valdez. “Young battled and gave us four strong, and McGrath also started out on fire for us. Frank Klemm (College of DuPage / Darien, Ill.) also came in, was aggressive, and threw strikes. In the end, they just got the hit, and that was that.”
Crestwood will have the opportunity to contend for win number two tomorrow night, as they take on the Northwest Indiana Oilmen from Oil City Stadium in Whiting, Indiana. Brandon Vickrey and Jon Zaghloul will have the call on the Oilmen Broadcast Network, available via Facebook Live starting at 7 P.M.
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