By: Jon Zaghloul
Crestwood, Ill. – July 24, 2020 – Although Friday night’s matchup against the Joliet Generals (3-13) began with an almost-immediate three-run deficit, the Crestwood Panthers (9-8) once again found a way to come out on top, extending their franchise-record win streak to six games in the 9-4 victory.
The Generals jumped on Crestwood early, tallying three runs on four hits in the contest’s third frame. In the following half inning, however, the Panthers promptly responded, as Riley Beck (Purdue University-Northwest / Cedar Rapids, Iowa.) laid down a perfectly executed suicide squeeze to score Andrew Tenison (Moraine Valley CC / Orland Park, Ill.). D’Vante Glenn (Coe College / Chicago, Ill.) and Nick Scroppo (South Suburban College / Peotone, Ill.) also drew bases-loaded walks to help Crestwood take a one-run lead.
Joliet countered with yet another run, and the score remained tied until the fifth inning. That is when Ray Hilbrich (Purdue University-Northwest / Schererville, Ind.) took control of the Panthers’ offensive attack. He laced a two-out, two-RBI single to right field, breaking the draw and giving Crestwood the lead. Then, in the eighth, Hilbrich struck again, driving in another run via an infield single. Overall on the day, Hilbrich recorded three hits, three RBIs, and three runs scored in the winning effort.
“We need to become a bit more consistent when it comes to timely hitting,” manager Isaac Valdez said. “Ray did a great job later on to come through like he did, but as a team, we just need to do better with our situational hitting. There’s been improvement, but we’re still not there yet.”
On the mound, starter Andrew Farbak (Purdue University-Northwest / New Lenox, Ill.) dealt 3 1/3 innings of competitive baseball, yet it was Breven Daugherity (Chicago State / Joliet, Ill.) who proved to be the Panthers’ biggest key out of the bullpen. In 4 2/3 innings, Daugherity held the Generals to zero runs en route to earning his third win of the season. In fact, Daugherity is currently the owner of an 11 2/3 innings scoreless streak. He has not allowed an earned run since his first outing of the season on July 8th. Valdez cited Daugherity’s performance on the mound, especially early on in the game, as a primary contributor to the Panthers’ victory.
“You know, early in the game, we were trying to figure things out,” Valdez said. “Breven gave us enough time to wake up, and from there, he did an awesome job. He completely shut them down, and allowed us to expand on our lead later on.”
For Crestwood, Friday’s win marks only the second time in franchise history that the team has maintained an above-.500 record throughout the regular season. The first instance occurred in the Panthers’ inaugural MCL season, in which they won the first game of the year, before eventually finishing 11-39. And according to Valdez, this development, although historic, is not surprising.
“Like I said during the first eight or nine days, I knew that, at that time, we weren’t who we were supposed to be,” Valdez said. “We’re a very talented group, and I knew that we were going to eventually turn things around. Now, I didn’t expect us to go on a winning streak like this, but we have a chance to continue to expand on it and take advantage.”
The Panthers will be back in action on Sunday, as Saturday’s originally scheduled game against the Joliet Generals has been canceled. Coverage of Crestwood’s Sunday afternoon tilt versus the Northwest Indiana Oilmen begins at 4:10 p.m. on the Panthers’ Broadcast Network, available via Facebook Live.
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