Panthers Squander Late Lead in Loss to Vikings

07/08/2018 10:15 PM -

Midlothian, Ill. – July 8, 2018 – The Panthers let another late lead slip away as they lost their first game this season to the Southland Vikings 6-2.  

Going into the top of the seventh inning, the Panthers led 2-0, but the Vikings scored at least one run in the final three innings to put away the Panthers.  

The Panthers sent Stephen Gilbertsen (Illinois State/Chesterton, Ind.) to the mound to try and extend the team’s win streak over the Vikings to three games.  As he’s done all season long, Gilbertsen pitched a gem.  He threw 110 pitches through his seven-inning start allowing just one unearned run, scattering eight hits and two walks while striking out four.  He ended his start in line for the win, as the Panthers led 2-1.  

“Stephen’s performance is what I expected to see,” Panthers manager Isaac Valdez said.  “He pitched outstanding today.  His performance was certainly more than good enough to earn a victory, we just didn’t support him defensively or offensively.”  

Evan Bell (Memphis/Oak Park, Ill.) opened the scoring in the bottom of the third inning when his single to left field drove home Colton Rydlewski (Albion College/Schererville, Ind.) for the game’s first run.  Rydlewski would follow up with an RBI of his own just one inning later as he singled home Blake Soria (South Mountain CC/Homer Glen, Ill.) to double the Panthers advantage over the Vikings.  Those would be the only two runs the Panthers would score throughout the ballgame.  

The Vikings would finally scratch a run off Gilbertsen in the seventh inning as Dylan Smith delivered with an opposite-field RBI single to bring Victor Perez across home plate, who had reached on a fielder’s choice and advanced to second on the same play following a Trey Romay (College of DuPage/Downers Grove, Ill.) throwing error, his second of the inning.  

The Panthers committed three errors in today’s game. 

“The defense did not do its job today,” Valdez said.  “These errors forced our pitchers to throw around 25 extra pitches, giving the other team a chance to see more pitches and increase their chances for success.  They took advantage of our lack of defensive effort, which is a shame.  It didn’t seem like our guys wanted the ball hit to them at certain times.”  

The eighth inning signaled the end of Gilbertsen’s day on the mound, as Valdez called upon Jake Miller (Concordia/Plainfield, Ill.) to record the final six outs and shut the door on the Vikings.  Things did not go according to plan, however, as the Vikings struck for four runs in the top of the eighth, sending ten different batters to the plate with the first six all reaching base.  After three consecutive infield singles, Kellen Quigley came off the bench to pinch hit and immediately delivered, grounding a double down the first-base line to put the Vikings in front 3-2.   

Miller would then hit Dashon Moore to reload the bases and walk Justin Rios to bring home another Vikings run.  A wild pitch accounted for the final run of the inning, as the Vikings ended their half of the inning with a 5-2 lead.  

They would tack on one more run in the ninth as Moore doubled home Jake Zylman to score the final run of the ballgame.  Miller pitched two innings allowing five runs on five hits, walking two and striking out four.  

“Overall, we just did not get enough production from our guys today,” Valdez said.  “Our defense let us down, especially in that eighth inning where we weren’t making the routine plays.  Offensively, we’re doing well in batting practice and in our preparation, but for whatever reason, it just isn’t carrying over into games.  It’s just a matter of time before the hitters get out of their funk and they will be able to produce when they need to most.”

The Panthers have a day off tomorrow but are back in action on Tuesday as they travel to Lemont High School to take on the DuPage County Hounds at 5:00 p.m.  That game will be broadcast on the Crestwood Panthers Broadcasting Network via Facebook Live, as Ryan Zimmerman will be on location for the play-by-play call.