By: Jon Zaghloul
Crestwood, Ill. – August 13, 2020 – Thursday afternoon’s tilt against the Joliet Generals (8-24) may not have ended in a victory for the Crestwood Panthers (17-14), but it did give the team an opportunity to not only reflect on their historic 2020 season, but say goodbye to franchise greats Reggie Brock (Chicago State / Chicago, Ill.) and Breven Daugherity (Chicago State / Joliet, Ill.) for good.
Brock and Daugherity, two victims of Chicago State’s decision to discontinue their baseball program, have officially played in the last collegiate baseball game of their careers, each exiting in grand fashion. Daugherity, in the middle of the seventh inning, was taken out by assistant coach Jameel Rush and was immediately embraced by his teammates in the dugout. Brock, meanwhile, was honored by home plate umpire Jim Nealon, as he bestowed upon Brock the game ball for his legendary three-year career in the Midwest Collegiate League.
“The Breven moment was planned,” manager Isaac Valdez said. “We wanted to give him an opportunity to go out on top, and be applauded by his teammates. He’s had a great career, and we wanted to honor him for that.”
In a similar sense, Nealon praised Brock for his time in the MCL, crediting his work ethic and character both on and off the field.
“I just wanted to honor Reggie because it’s been a pleasure to watch him play,” Nealon said. “I gave him the game ball on behalf of us umpires who appreciate his character, hard work, and in-game effort.”
The contest itself proved to be down to the wire, as the Panthers initially trailed 2-0 entering the bottom of the first. Tim Fauth (North Park University / Elk Grove Village, Ill.) delivered an RBI single to cut the deficit in half, before Ray Hilbrich (Purdue University-Northwest / Schererville, Ind.) continued to make his case for MCL MVP, posting a base-hit and RBI in the second, keeping Crestwood within one. Hilbrich would also add a clutch sacrifice fly in the sixth to tie the game at three apiece. In extra innings, the Panthers allowed a two-run home run to Generals center fielder Bryant Diel, but managed to mount yet another comeback via a Colton Rydlewski (Albion College / Schererville, Ind.) RBI double. That would, unfortunately, serve as Crestwood’s only source of offense late, as they ended up falling 5-4.
“I thought our guys did a great job, and sometimes, the other team just beats you,” Valdez said. “They got hits when they needed them and we just fell short, but I was still happy with our performance here today.”
On the mound, the Panthers utilized five pitchers in total, but reliever Anthony Scanlon (University of Dubuque / Saint John, Ind.) proved most effective out of the bullpen, dealing four shutout innings, while striking out three Joliet hitters. Breven Daugherity also lasted 1 1/3 shutout innings in relief, and both Oscar Trevino (Saint Xavier University / Lowell, Ind.) and Casey Pickering (UW-Stevens Point / Naperville, Ill.) enjoyed comfortable outings late in the game.
As for Crestwood, their 17-14 record will mark a franchise record for most wins and highest winning percentage in a single season. Their six-game winning streak, which lasted from July 17th through July 24th, also stands as a team record. And, to ice the cake, the Panthers’ third-place finish in the MCL standings signifies the highest position that the team has ever attained in a season. Simply put, it was a year of milestones for the Panthers, and Valdez was proud to see his team continue to rise to the occasion.
“Throughout the season, I’ve challenged these guys to get better,” Valdez said. “And, you know, most guys would take that challenge and do nothing with it because it’s ‘just the summer.’ Not these guys; they’re mentally tough. They want to succeed and they responded really well to the challenges that I gave them.”
Crestwood may not have clinched a playoff berth in 2020, but they certainly put together a season-long performance that will not be forgotten. Congratulations to the team on a historic season, and thank you for following along throughout the year!
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