By: Jon Zaghloul
Crestwood, Ill. – August 8, 2020 – Saturday’s matchup between the Southland Vikings (17-15) and the Crestwood Panthers (16-12) was nothing short of a must-win situation for Crestwood. They entered play just 1 1/2 games behind the DuPage County Hounds for second-place in the MCL standings, and were also winners of four-straight. Unfortunately, however, after tying up the contest in the bottom of the ninth, the Panthers fell in extra innings to the Vikings, losing 9-6 in 10.
Crestwood had initially trailed 2-0, but in the fifth, Cameron Bufford (Grambling State University / South Holland, Ill.) and Reggie Brock (Chicago State / Chicago, Ill.) each notched RBIs via a double and a single, respectively, to knot things at two apiece. Then, in the seventh, Ray Hilbrich (Purdue University-Northwest / Schererville, Ind.) launched yet another home run to left field, making it, at the time, a 5-3 Panthers deficit.
With Crestwood still trailing by two in the ninth, Andrew Tenison (Moraine Valley CC / Orland Park, Ill.) lined a two-out, two-RBI double to right-center field to officially send the game to extra innings. That very next frame, though, proved to end the team’s comeback bid, as the Vikings struck for four runs to effectively finalize what was a hard-fought victory.
“You know, we were just emotionally flat today, and that was disappointing,” manager Isaac Valdez said. “And we had opportunities throughout the game to score more, and not have to be in this situation, but we just couldn’t get that hit when we needed it. Our offense needed to do a better job.”
On the mound, Max Engstrom (Indiana Wesleyan University / Hickory Hills, Ill.) went a season-high 6 1/3 innings, allowing just two earned runs, while striking out three Vikings hitters. In relief, Ryan McGrath (Moraine Valley CC / Oak Lawn, Ill.) was able to record two key outs in the seventh, and Breven Daugherity (Chicago State / Chicago, Ill.) pitched through the 10th, plus gave Crestwood the opportunity to make their initial comeback.
“Max did a great job and certainly pitched well enough for us to win the ballgame,” Valdez said. “Breven also battled; he didn’t have his best stuff, but battled on the mound and helped us stay in the game. You know, we just couldn’t come through on offense despite the way our pitchers threw.”
The Panthers will look to get back into the win column on Monday afternoon, as they oppose the DuPage County Hounds in a matchup loaded with playoff implications. Coverage begins at 5 p.m. on the Panthers’ Broadcast Network, available via Facebook Live.
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