06/07/2019 11:15 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – June 7, 2019 – It seems as if Panthers' Manager Isaac Valdez is psychic.
Following their sixth loss of the season on Wednesday night, Valdez made a bold prediction, claiming that Crestwood "would win, and win big" against the Northwest Indiana Oilmen on Friday night. At the time, his prognosis appeared bleak at best. But after 11 hits, 10 runs, and three outstanding pitching performances, Valdez's prophecy proved to be spot on, as the Panthers soundly defeated the Oilmen 10-4 at Oil City Stadium.
Leading the 10-run offensive explosion was Tom Stoodt (Butler University / Chicago, Ill.), who delivered a clutch, three-RBI double in the sixth inning, allowing the Panthers to pull away early on. His Butler counterpart Nick Doman (Butler University / Chicago, Ill.) added three hits and two RBIs, while scoring two runs. Nick Anderson (Kankakee CC / Highland, Ind.) "quietly" contributed two hits and an RBI, and Austin De La Cruz (Beloit College / Kailua Kona, Hawaii) supplied an additional two hits and three runs scored.
"As I've said before, we're going to swing it, and tonight, we did," said Valdez. "I know they're going to hit. And this isn't going to be a once-a-week thing, we're going to continue to hit."
As impressive as the Panthers' bats were on Friday night, the pitching was just as spectacular. Eddie Wilkins (University of Illinois-Springfield / Braidwood, Ill.), announced as the starting pitcher immediately following Wednesday's loss to the Southland Vikings, lived up to Valdez's lofty expectations. After four shutout innings, surrendering only one hit, while striking out five, Wilkins' night came to an end due to a 75-pitch limit. Ethan Soderna (Ohio Wesleyan University / Chicago, Ill.), however, picked up right where Wilkins left off, turning in 3.2 innings of two-run ball, fanning three Oilmen hitters in the process. To boot, Malek Mostafa (Elmhurst College / Westmont, Ill.) recorded the game's final four outs to seal the victory. Valdez was extremely pleased with what he saw on the mound.
"Our pitching today was outstanding. We have a scouting report, now that we've played every team, and tonight, we stuck to the plan. And of course, you saw the result. That's something we're going to do again on Sunday, and as long as we continue to execute the plan, at least 70 percent of the time, good things are going to happen."
In spite of the aforementioned performances, Crestwood's first win was also made possible by a shocking five errors committed by the Oilmen. Those defensive miscues led to three unearned runs, and, much to the delight of Valdez, an opportunity for league parity.
"It's about time, because, at some point, things need to balance out. And this was one of those days. Look, that's what good teams do; they take advantage of the other team's mistakes, and that's what we did tonight."
With win number one under his belt, Valdez didn't hold back in his thoughts on the Panthers' status as a team.
"I think we are a good team. Maybe our record today doesn't reflect it, but let's see what it is in a few more weeks."
The Panthers will take on the DuPage County Hounds in search of win number two on Sunday from Hap Bruno Field in Chicago Heights, Ill. Coverage starts at 5 pm on the Panthers Broadcasting Network, which is available via Facebook Live.