By: Jon Zaghloul
Crestwood, Ill. – July 23, 2020 – This past week has been unlike any other for the Crestwood Panthers (8-8). Not only have they already set the record for the longest winning streak in team history, but on Thursday night in Whiting, the Panthers took down the MCL’s top team in dominant fashion, defeating the Northwest Indiana Oilmen (11-4) 12-4.
Crestwood, once again, struck almost immediately, scoring three runs in the top half of the first inning. Both Andrew Tenison (Moraine Valley CC / Orland Park, Ill.) and newcomer Ronald Applewhite (Olney Central JC / Calumet City, Ill.) recorded RBIs in the game’s inaugural frame, which helped set the tone for Brady Miller (Western Michigan / Plainfield, Ill.) on the mound. Miller tossed nearly four scoreless innings, surrendering just one hit while striking out three Oilmen hitters in the process.
The Panthers extended their lead to 4-0 in the second via one of Cameron Bufford’s (Grambling State University / South Holland, Ill.) four hits on the day, then took advantage of nine Oilmen errors in the field. Late in the game, Ray Hilbrich (Purdue University-Northwest / Schrerville, Ind.) delivered a three-RBI double to officially seal the deal, yet Crestwood’s ability to capitalize off of Northwest Indiana’s multitude of errors made for the large margin of victory.
“You know, we can’t control what the other team does,” manager Isaac Valdez said. “All we can worry about is getting the barrel to the baseball and making solid contact. That being said, we took advantage of the opportunities presented to us tonight, like a good club does, and that made a big difference.”
Following Miller’s exit, Max Engstrom (Indiana Wesleyan University / Hickory Hills, Ill.) turned in yet another outstanding performance on the mound, allowing one run in three-plus innings of work, while sending down four Oilmen batters via the strikeout. Oscar Trevino (St. Xavier University / Lowell, Ind.) also made significant strides in his two-inning outing, recording three strikeouts against one walk. Valdez was quite pleased with all three of his pitchers’ contributions on Thursday.
“Brady just pounded the strike zone for us, and did a great job,” Valdez said. “Max then came in, and did what he did, plus Oscar got in as well to contribute and get him some work in after coming off an injury.”
Pitching has been one of the primary factors behind the Panthers’ recent run of success, as their sheer depth and overall skill set is something that has not been seen in the past. Valdez did mention, however, that Crestwood has found multiple ways to win games over this stretch, making it all the more impressive.
“These guys have just done it in every which way,” Valdez said. “They’ve done it by scoring runs, they’ve done it with just pitching and defense, and sometimes it’s been ugly, but we’ve continued to find a way. So, they’ve done a great job; they’re really into it and they’re also improving in every facet of the game.”
The Panthers will look to keep the streak alive on Friday afternoon, as they oppose the Joliet Generals from Andrean High School. Coverage begins at 5 p.m. on the Panthers’ Broadcast Network, available via Facebook Live.
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