Generals Ninth Inning Comeback Downs Panthers

06/03/2019 9:01 PM -

-By Sam Oppenheim

As Generals infielder Daniel Fierro (Braidwood, Ill. / Joliet JC) stepped into the batter’s box in the ninth inning, two things were on his mind.

“It all comes back to having fun and being aggressive,” said Fierro. “With a guy on first base, you look for a good pitch to hit.”

Fierro lined the pitch from Crestwood Panthers reliever Breven Daugherity into centerfield. In a diving effort, outfielder Nick Anderson misplayed the ball. Then, Fierro turned on the wheels.

“I thought he’d knock it down at first,” said Fierro. “I looked at coach and he told me to keep going so I did.”

Fierro ended up with a triple, bringing in Connor Pasko (Willow Springs, Ill. / Triton College) to tie the game at six. After an intentional walk to infielder John Oldman (Wheaton, Ill. / Aurora University), who had three hits tonight, outfielder Ty Castillo (Defiance, Ohio / Robert Morris - Illinois) came to the plate. He made contact with the first pitch he saw.

“I just wanted to put the ball in play,” said Castillo. “Give the guy on third base the best chance to score.”

Castillo hit a short blooper down the first base line. Panthers right fielder Austin De La Cruz raced over but was unable to make the grab. Joliet was victorious, 7-6 over Crestwood.

Earlier, the Generals were up 5-2 after six innings, thanks to five strong innings of two-run ball by starting pitcher Danny Wizceb (Vernon Hills, Ill. / Triton College). Three runs by the Panthers in the seventh changed the game. One inning later, Crestwood pushed one more run across to take a 6-5 lead into the ninth.

Now, Joliet has won two in a row. It’s a far cry from their 24-1 opening day loss to the Hounds. For manager Matt Vitulli, the turnaround is a good sign.

“I was very upset at that very first loss we had,” said Vitulli. “We could’ve easily thrown in the towel, but a good ball club usually bounces back.”

Going forward, the skipper wants the team to improve on the mound.

“We’re starting out behind on a lot of hitters,” said Vitulli. “Once you start walking guys, the defense falls asleep and that’s when we start kicking the ball around.”

However, the offensive performances have been more encouraging.

“I’m very proud of how our hitters have responded, especially after the 24-1 loss to DuPage,” said Vitulli.

Next up is a chance for the Generals to avenge their loss to the Hounds. They play host to DuPage on Wednesday at 5 p.m. The game is at Wayne King Field and will be broadcasted on the Joliet Generals Facebook Page.