Panthers’ Comeback Falls Short Against Vikings

07/14/2020 4:06 PM -

Crestwood, Ill. – July 14, 2020 – Tuesday’s game against the Southland Vikings (8-3) had all the ingredients necessary for an epic comeback bid by Crestwood (3-7).  

After jumping out to a quick 2-0 lead, the Panthers fell behind significantly, and even trailed by five runs at one point. The team, however, began to slowly chip away, tallying six runs in the game’s final six innings, while allowing the tying run to reach base in the ninth. The effort, though, was ultimately not enough, as Crestwood fell to the Vikings 9-8.  

The Panthers immediately struck for two runs in the contest’s first frame, then gave up three runs in the third. Following an additional four runs scored by Southland in the fourth, Cameron Bufford (Grambling State University / South Holland, Ill.) launched a two-run home run to deep left field, cutting the Vikings’ lead to three. Then, Brett Riegler (University of Chicago / Downers Grove, Ill.) drew a bases-loaded walk to further shorten the deficit.  

Later in the inning, Lawrence Noble (Coppin State University / Chicago, Ill.) delivered a clutch RBI single, which also gave Crestwood runners on second and third with only one out. Unfortunately, however, the Panthers were unable to take advantage, and that moment, according to manager Isaac Valdez, foreshadowed the game’s end result.  

“Look, our problem all season has been cashing in with runners on base and less than two outs,” Valdez said. “Today, we had a situation like that, and we struck out, then grounded out to end the inning. That just can’t happen, and we need to improve upon our situational hitting.”  

On the mound, Eddie Wilkins (University of Illinois-Springfield / Braidwood, Ill.) continued his hot stretch, pitching five quality innings of two-run baseball. Additionally, right-hander Brady Miller (Western Michigan University / Plainfield, Ill.) kept the Vikings at bay in relief, serving as a valuable bridge until the game’s final inning. 

“Eddie had some really good stuff early on,” Valdez said. “And then, Brady came in and also pitched well. We were definitely competitive on the mound today.”  

Tuesday’s game marked the Panthers’ third loss in which they have attained an early lead, then lost it. Had Crestwood held on to those respective lead, their record could spell 6-4, instead of the current 3-7. That, Valdez says, is a bit frustrating.

“This team seems to be all or nothing at the plate, yet our record is what it is right now,” Valdez said. “You know, we play baseball a certain way, and that needs to change if we want to win more games.”  

Crestwood will look for win number four on Wednesday afternoon, as they oppose the Northwest Indiana Oilmen at Lansing Old Timer’s Sports Complex. Coverage begins at 2 p.m. on the Panthers’ Broadcast Network, available via Facebook Live.