By: Jon Zaghloul
Crestwood, Ill. – August 11, 2020 – Before Tuesday afternoon’s matchup against the MCL Minutemen (11-21), the Crestwood Panthers (17-12) knew they were approaching must-win territory. One mistake, or one loss, would completely derail their chances to make the playoffs, and thus, in the process, end their miraculous, cinderella-type season. Fortunately, that did not happen to Crestwood on Tuesday, as the Panthers walked-off the Minutemen 8-7 in 10, and extended their postseason hopes for another day.
After the Minutemen initially struck for three runs in the contest’s first frame, Crestwood came roaring back via an RBI double from Reggie Brock (Chicago State / Chicago, Ill.) and an RBI single by Andrew Tenison (Moraine Valley CC / Orland Park, Ill.). In the third, the Panthers tacked on two more runs courtesy of a Riley Beck (Purdue University-Northwest / Cedar Rapids, Iowa.) bases-loaded walk, and a wild pitch that scored Colton Rydlewski (Albion College / Schererville, Ind.).
The Minutemen, however, would go on to retake the lead in the top of the fourth, prompting Brock to launch a solo home run in the bottom half of the frame to pull Crestwood back to within one. Then, in the sixth, Brock drew a bases-loaded walk to draw the score even once again. That would be the case until the tenth inning, when, following a Minutemen run, the Panthers were tasked with stringing together yet another comeback.
It all began with a Scott Richards (Moraine Valley CC / Orland Park, Ill.) bunt single, which moved runner Riley Beck over to third base. Ray Hilbrich (Purdue University-Northwest / Schererville, Ind.) would then line a single to left field to tie the game at seven, before Andrew Tenison singled to right field, plating Richards and giving Crestwood the much-needed win.
“The guys battled all game,” manager Isaac Valdez said. “We were tense, and we weren’t playing very relaxed, but to their credit, they came through. And that means a lot. That really shows fortitude and that shows a competitive edge. You don’t do that without mental toughness and these guys have it.”
On the mound, starter Jacob Young (Fairmont State University / Lisle, Ill.) pitched four strong innings of competitive baseball, but it was Dylan White (University of Chicago / Danville, Calif.) who shut the door on numerous MCL comebacks. In six shutout innings of relief work, White allowed only one hit and struck out five Minutemen hitters in the process. According to Valdez, without White’s spectacular outing, the Panthers would not have come out on top.
“He is probably the biggest reason why we won because he shut them down, gave us an opportunity to chip away, and then, gave us an opportunity, in the tenth, to win the game,” Valdez said. “Fortunately, we were able to come through for him, because he deserved that victory as well.”
At the moment, Crestwood now sits two games behind the DuPage County Hounds for the second spot in the MCL standings with just three regular-season games left to play. Wednesday afternoon’s scheduled tilt against the Hounds will, therefore, be loaded with playoff implications. Coverage begins at 5 p.m. from Aurora Central Catholic High School on the Panthers’ Broadcast Network, available via Facebook Live.
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