Panthers Ride Clutch Pitching to Victory Over Hounds
06/21/2018 2:35 AM -
Midlothian, Ill. – June 20, 2018 – The Crestwood Panthers came through when it mattered most as they defeated the DuPage County Hounds 7-5.
The Panthers pitching staff came through in the clutch as they held a potent Hounds offense to only five runs. Until this evening’s game, the Hounds had scored double-digit runs every time these two teams met this season.
The Panthers did not waste any time igniting their offense, as they opened the scoring in the second inning. After Hounds starting pitcher Brett Taucher began the frame by walking the first three Panthers to hit, he drilled Shane Peisker (John A. Logan College/Hammond, Ind.) with the bases loaded to bring home the game’s first run. Reggie Brock (Chicago State/Chicago, Ill.) would follow that up with a two-run single with the bases still loaded two batters later. Cole Blatchford (Air Force Academy/Highlands Ranch, Colo.) and Michael Jahnke (Coe College/Lansing, Ill.) would add on with singles of their own, capping off a six-run inning.
Taucher would get pulled after just 1 2/3 innings of work allowing six runs on three hits and five walks striking out two as he took the loss.
It was evident to Panthers manager Isaac Valdez that his team’s approach at the plate with runners in scoring position had improved. “I see the guys being selfless now,” Valdez said. “They’re just trying to put the ball in play in certain situations versus trying to air it out as they were earlier in the season. Now they’re not only seeing the success of a different approach, they’re starting to buy into it too.”
Panthers starting pitcher Jake Miller (Concordia/Plainfield, Ill.) backed up his team’s strong performance at the plate, putting together another good start. Even though he was held to 74 pitches, he still went four innings of one-run ball, scattering six hits and two walks while striking out one.
“Jake has been very impressive for us all season long,” Valdez said. “He pitches beyond his years having just graduated high school. He did a great job mixing his splitter and fastball. He didn’t have his best stuff tonight because he wasn’t consistently throwing his splitter for strikes, but he battled and found a way to shut down an excellent offense.”
It looked like the Panthers were in danger of losing their lead as Miller made way for Kyle Ostrowski (John A. Logan College/Tinley Park, Ill.) in the fifth inning. Ostrowski only faced three hitters and he walked all three, leaving the bases for Justin Ruehl (Benedictine/Chicago, Ill.) to enter the game. Ruehl would walk the next two hitters he faced, cutting the Panthers lead to three runs, but even after inducing fielder’s choice and a strikeout, the Hounds cut their deficit to two. Jahnke would replace Ruehl to get the third out, and he did so in just two pitches, getting Dane Toppel to pop out to short, preserving the Panthers lead at 6-4.
Jahnke faced five hitters, getting four of them out in his 1 1/3 innings of work including one strikeout, earning a win in the process.
Pat Mayo (Spring Hill College/Oak Lawn, Ill.) would steal the show from the sixth inning onwards. He would drive in a run with a sacrifice fly to give the Panthers a crucial insurance run, stretching their lead to 7-4. Later, in the top of the seventh, Mayo took over on the mound after Jahnke surrendered leadoff double. Mayo would go 2 2/3 innings in relief, not allowing a single run on one hit and one walk while striking out two.
“I just tried to throw strikes and get guys out,” Mayo said. “That’s all I was thinking, and fortunately I was able to execute and help secure that second win.”
After a double play in the top of the ninth, Valdez opted to move Cole Blatchford from third base to the pitcher’s mound to record the final out, opting to have Blatchford finish off his final game with the team. He would handily strike out Kennedy Phillips on four pitches to polish off his second save and the team’s second win.
“It’s been great being a part of this team over the last couple weeks,” Blatchford said. “I’ve really enjoyed going out and competing with these guys every day. I’m really glad I was able to help them get one final win before I go.”
Following their victory today, the Panthers take the field again tomorrow against the Southland Vikings at 5:00 p.m. at Hap Bruno Field. Before that game takes place, the two teams will finish their postponed game from May 29, where they will begin play in the 11th inning. You can catch both games on the Crestwood Panthers Broadcasting Network as Ryan Zimmerman will have the play-by-play call.