On a day in which chilly wind combined with occasional sunshine to create fluctuating temperatures, the Montezuma-Cortez High School baseball won one of two home games against Monte Vista on April 13.
The Panthers victory, which came in the second game of the doubleheader, was keyed by sophomore Kori Likes, who smashed a home run and a single, and drove in four runs in five at-bats.
Although the ultimate result of the contest was a positive one for M-CHS, a Panthers win appeared in doubt after Monte Vista scored seven runs off starting pitcher Preston Davidovich in the top of the first inning.
Three scoreless innings from senior Ryan Medina allowed M-CHS to right its ship, however, and 31/3 innings of solid pitching by Clayton Yoder allowed the Panthers to close the gap over the game’s final six innings.
M-CHS capped off its thrilling rally with four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning. The Panthers also scored five runs in the bottom of the fifth. Medina drove in two runs, Yoder drove in one run, and sophomore Ty Blackmer had three hits and one RBI.
The Panthers win came after a disappointing 7-3 loss in the opening game of the doubleheader, which came in spite of a solid pitching performance by sophomore Ernie Padilla, who allowed five earned runs over six innings of work.
Although the final stat line for Padilla wasn’t especially pretty, the sophomore showed an innate ability to paint the outside corner of the plate with hard fastballs and keep his focus after several errors by the M-CHS defense.
“Ernie threw a lot of outs,” M-CHS catcher Travis Beeson said. “We had a lot of errors in the first couple of innings, and sometimes the errors get a hold of you. (Ernie) allowed a few base hits, but not a lot.”
After M-CHS found itself trailing 5-0 heading into the bottom of the fourth inning, the Panthers offense took advantage of several Monte Vista miscues in the field and plated two runs to cut its deficit to 5-2.
An RBI single by Likes in the bottom of the fifth inning cut M-CHS’ deficit to 6-3, but the Panthers were not able to get any closer thanks to the stellar pitching of Monte Vista senior Tucker Jones, who allowed two earned runs over seven innings and struck out 14 batters.
“(Jones) was throwing pretty hard,” Beeson explained. “He had a weird arm angle, and he was hard to hit.”
With its split in the doubleheader against Monte Vista, M-CHS’ record now stands at 5-4 overall and 1-1 in the Intermountain League. Next up for the Panthers will be a home matchup against Monticello High School on April 16.