Panthers seize Pirates

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 9:41 PM
Journal/Sam Green
Ryan Haley slides safely into second base Tuesday as the Panthers went on to defeat Pagosa Springs.
Journal/Sam Green
Tam Phan avoids a tag and slides safely into second base Tuesday afternoon, as the Panthers beat Pagosa Springs 9-1 at McAndrew Field.

The Montezuma-Cortez High School baseball team evened its record at 2-2 with a 9-1 home win over Pagosa Springs on Tuesday afternoon at McAndrew Field.

Panthers first-year coach Sam Perry won his debut in Bloomfield, N.M., last Friday and was victorious in his home debut Tuesday.

M-CHS got solid, no-hit pitching from starter Ryan Haley for three innings, reliever Manuel Hernandez for two innings and closer Josh White threw the last two innings to complete the no-hitter.

The Pirates took an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first after Mason Laverty grounded out to first base, but picked up an RBI. Haley walked the first two Pagosa Springs hitters for it to have base runners.

Haley struck out Ty Lovato for the third out, and it was all Panthers after that.

Haley, Hernandez and White combined for eight strike outs in the contest. Haley had four K’s, and Hernandez and White each had two.

“I’m very proud of the way we played defensively,” Perry said. “Our pitchers made quality pitches. Our infielders made some very good plays in the field, which was good to see.”

Right fielder Tam Phan and second baseman Devin Fox each got out to start the bottom of the first, but Haley and Gerardo Martinez forced walks to get on base. Two batters later, shortstop Chris Black would send them both home with an RBI-single for the first M-CHS lead. The Panthers tacked on one more run to lead 3-1 after one inning.

The Pirates never threatened again, as they only got on base two more times because of walks.

M-CHS built a 6-1 lead after five innings, but it wasn’t done yet. The Panthers added three runs in the sixth starting with Black’s RBI triple to right center field. Black then came home because of an errant throw from the Pirates catcher that sailed over his third baseman’s head. White belted an RBI-double to left field to complete the scoring, and then closed the win in the seventh inning with two strike outs and a ground out.

“I’m just pleased with how we played defensively today. That kept us on top of Pagosa. It never gave them a chance to really rally and get anything,” Perry said. “Keeping them off the bases was key. They have some pretty good speed.”

Black hit 2-for-3 with three RBIs.

“I was definitely proud of our team. We came out practicing hard and we got a lot better in the tournament last weekend,” Haley, who also hit a single, said. “We came out here and got good pitching. We worked hard and got the easy routine plays, and came out with the win.”

The Panthers indeed performed well for the home fans in attendance at McAndrew Field and the support was appreciated.

“We’re practicing with an attitude that we are here to win. We’re here to start a new tradition in Cortez,” Perry said. “I’m pleased with the community support that we had today. That really makes our guys feel good, it makes us play better and it makes it more important to us. Those are things we want to continue here.”

M-CHS will host the three-day Cortez Invitational on Thursday through Sunday, March 17-19. The M-CHS and Dolores junior varsity teams play today at 9 a.m. at McAndrew Field. The Panthers varsity will host the Dolores varsity on Friday at 1 p.m., then host San Juan (Blanding, Utah) High School at 4 p.m. On Saturday, M-CHS will play San Juan again at 1 p.m.

“I’m really excited for this tournament. As long as we play clean, get our sticks going and score the runners on base, make routine plays and have fun out there, we’ll do pretty good.”

Reach Bobby Abplanalp at