06/09/2021 8:24 PM -
Crestwood, Ill. – June 9, 2021 – Similar to Monday evening’s matchup, Wednesday’s Panthers (5-5)/Minutemen (3-5) game was low-scoring and down to the wire. In the end, it was a fielding error that made the difference, allowing Crestwood to record a walk-off 4-3 win, and snap their three-game losing streak.
The Panthers struck first offensively, as lead-off man Ryan Moerman (University of Illinois / Lockport, Ill.) launched a solo home run to set the tone early. Crestwood, then, relied on the arm of Richie LaCien (Lawrence University / New Lenox, Ill.) to shut down the Minutemen lineup. In five strong innings, LaCien struck out eight MCL hitters against just two walks, and gave up zero earned runs. Manager Isaac Valdez was pleased to see consistent strikes, limited free passes, and excellent control on the mound.
“Richie gave us five great innings of baseball,” Valdez said. “He really kept things at bay by throwing consistent strikes from the beginning. That was a big difference-maker for us today.”
After exhibiting struggles with situational hitting in the past, Crestwood put that narrative to bed beginning in the fourth. Following a three-run inning for the Minutemen, the Panthers immediately countered with two runs to knot the game back up. Sean Lynch (Eastern Illinois / Indian Creek, Ill.) recorded an RBI single to plate Tyler Schultz (Purdue University-Northwest / Hobart, Ind.), and with two outs, Ronald Applewhite (Culver-Stockton College / Chicago, Ill.) launched a clutch RBI double to left field, thereby tying the game.
In the seventh, Moerman led things off with a base hit before stealing second base. With two outs, and Moerman still at second. Lynch hit a hard groundball to Minutemen shortstop Ryan Nelson who failed to field it cleanly, and thus, allowing Moerman to score. Although it was not a walk-off hit, Valdez was still happy to see contact in that situation, and proclaimed progress for Crestwood.
“Even though it wasn’t a walk-off hit, it’s still progress for us,” Valdez said. “We were able to put the ball in play, and that’s why we won the game. By doing that, we forced the other team to make a play, and that’s something to build off of moving forward.”
The win brought the Panthers back to .500 on the season, and instills confidence in Valdez that continued better days are ahead.
“We are right where we want to be,” Valdez said. “We’re going to continue to improve, and that’s for certain. Our bench will get deeper very soon, and I’m excited to see what comes over the next week.”
The Panthers will travel to Oil City Stadium for their next game, as they oppose the Northwest Indiana Oilmen on Thursday morning. First pitch is scheduled for 11:10 A.M., and will be heard on WJOB Radio and JED TV.