By: Ryan Zimmerman
Midlothian, Ill. – Coming off a win against the first-place DuPage County Hounds, the MCL Minutemen (9-18) came to Howie Minas Field looking to create another winning streak. However, the Crestwood Panthers (14-11) had other plans. They rode their clutch hitting in the final four innings to a convincing win, sending the Minutemen home with an 11-2 loss.
“Today was not our best effort,” manager Jack Murphy said. “Our approach at the plate was good, but it wasn’t to the same level we’ve been playing recently. We got our hits, but they were scattered a little too far apart. Our inability to strike just set us back.”
Despite the lopsided final score, the Minutemen started off strongly. Starting pitcher Jeremiah Williams (South Suburban College/Calumet City, Ill.) shut down opposing hitters in his first five innings, allowing two hits and striking out three in that span. No Panther reached further than second base.
“Jeremiah came out really strong again,” Murphy said. “He was excellent early on. He commanded the strike zone well with all his pitches, changed speeds effectively, and kept guys off balance.”
His early exploits did not go to waste, as the Minutemen spotted him a middle-inning lead. After three scoreless innings from both teams to start the game, the hosts broke through in the fourth. Patrick Doran (North Carolina Central/Chicago, Ill.) led off the frame by singling to center and promptly advanced to second base on a balk. Following two consecutive flyouts, Lukas Broske (Lake Land College/West Bend, Wis.) knocked a sharp ground ball to shortstop, causing an error and bringing home Doran. A Mike Koszewski (Cincinnati/Oak Brook, Ill.) single sent him to second before Matthew Lelito (Kankakee CC/Merrillville, Ind.) lined a base hit himself to plate Broske. The two-out rally spotted the hosts a 2-0 lead.
Once the sixth inning rolled around, though, the Panthers took control. A six-run sixth inning featuring five hits, including a three-run home run, spotted them their first advantage. From there they never looked back. They scored at least one run in the final three innings, including pairs in the seventh and ninth, to put the Minutemen away.
The Minutemen did have some positives in the late goings, most notably the debut of relief pitcher Basil Webber (Midwest Prep Academy/Markham, Ill.) He entered in the eighth inning with one run already in, runners on the corners, and no outs, but the pressure of the moment never fazed him. He struck out the side to hold the Panthers at bay. While he did surrender a two-run home run in the ninth, he finished his outing on a high note, punching out the last Panther he faced to up his total to four.
“Basil was really good today,” Murphy said of his newest player. “I put him in a tough spot, but he stood his ground. Outside of the one bad pitch [the home run] he made, nobody hit him hard at all. It was a good first appearance for him overall; I’m excited to watch him take the mound again.”
On the offensive side, multiple players continued their recent runs of good form. Doran recorded another multi-hit performance, his fourth in the last six. Koszewski also notched two hits, including a double, also stealing a base. Christian Peña (Eastern Illinois/Davenport, Iowa) drew two walks, extending his on-base streak to 12 straight games.
“We had a bunch of good at-bats today,” Murphy said. “There were also a bunch of hard-hit balls that unfortunately found gloves. They just weren’t consistent. That’s the biggest key, putting good swings together, we missed that today.”
The Minutemen return to action on Thursday as they head to Dowling Park in Hammond, Ind. at 5 p.m. to take on the Southland Vikings. In order to get back into the win column, Murphy cited a steady focus for all nine innings.
“The guys just need to come out and play hard again for all nine innings,” Murphy said. “I still believe that if we do that and stay locked in from the first pitch to the last, we’re a tough team to beat.”
You can watch every moment will on the MCL Minutemen Broadcast Network via Facebook Live as Ryan Zimmerman and Jack Theil have the live call.
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