By: Jon Zaghloul
Crestwood, Ill. – August 12, 2020 – It was, for all intents and purposes, a “postseason” matchup for the Crestwood Panthers (17-13) on Wednesday afternoon. A win would catapult the team to within one game of a playoff spot, with just two to go, while a loss would effectively end their season entirely. And although the Panthers put together a valiant fight against the DuPage County Hounds (21-11), their efforts came up short, as they lost 11-3.
The action began on a promising note for Crestwood, as star infielder Cameron Bufford (Grambling State University / South Holland, Ill.) launched a lead-off home run to dead center field, giving the team what would be their only lead of the game. The score was then deadlocked at one in the fourth when the Hounds struck for five runs, four of which came after the ejection of manager Isaac Valdez for arguing a call at first base.
The Panthers, however, would not go down without a fight, as Trey Romay (Elmhurst College / Downers Grove, Ill.) hit a dramatic two-run home run to pull Crestwood to within four. Unfortunately, though, that is as close as the team would get.
“I don’t think the ejection truly lost us the game,” assistant coach Jameel Rush said. “We battled throughout and played good baseball. Unfortunately, a couple of calls did not go our way, and they hit us well later on.”
On the mound, Brady Miller (Western Michigan University / Plainfield, Ill.) turned in a gutsy 3 1/3 inning performance, striking out four Hounds hitters. Max Engstrom (Indiana Wesleyan University / Hickory Hills, Ill.) then entering in relief, and served as a valuable bridge in the middle innings, allowing the Panthers to stay in the game throughout. Both Ayden Head (Kenyon College / Clarendon Hills, Ill.) and Cameron Crowley (Trinity College / Downers Grove, Ill.) also contributed one inning apiece near the game’s end.
“You know, our pitchers battled throughout,” Rush said. “I still thought we played well, especially in the beginning, but we just couldn’t fully execute today.”
The loss officially eliminates the Panthers from playoff contention, but that being said, the team has still set the franchise record for single-season wins. At the moment, Crestwood has also clinched a winning record for the first time in team history. Those sentiments were echoed by Rush.
“You hate to see it end like this, but we had a great season,” Rush said. “This is, by far, the best season in Panthers history, and that’s something to be proud of.”
The Panthers’ historic season continues tomorrow at Andrean High School, as Crestwood is set to oppose the Joliet Generals. Coverage begins at 5 p.m. on the Panthers’ Broadcast Network, available via Facebook Live.
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