For the Montezuma-Cortez High School baseball team, the Cortez Tournament yielded a championship trophy.
For Dolores High School and Dove Creek High School, the Tournament provided hope.
And for those in attendance, three early season baseball games provided thrills and chills.
Panthers destroy Dolores
Kicking off the round robin on March 15, Montezuma-Cortez High School used hitting and clutch pitching to beat Dolores 12-2.
Leading the Panthers from the mound was sophomore pitcher Andrew Laymon, who, riding a solid fastball, held Dolores in check while impressing manager Cortez manager Matt Betts.
“This was his first start since summer and honestly, he did better than I thought he would do,” Betts said. I was pleased with his performance.”
Playing a key role for the Panthers offense was junior Bridger Brenner, whose fly ball to right field midway through the second inning plated three runs to give the Panthers a 4-0 lead.
Although Dolores pitcher Kellen Gatzke battled hard, the Panthers offense was too much.
“It was nice to see our bats come alive,” said Betts. “We were aggressive on the base paths and we were able to get some timely hits.”
Dolores blasts Dove Creek
Quickly recovering from their loss to Cortez, Dolores came out firing against Dove Creek, beating the Bulldogs 10-2 in what amounted to a dominant performance.
Surprising the Bulldogs early on was Dolores shortstop Ethen Upton, whose two-run double down the third base line put Dolores up 3-0 after one inning of play.
Struggling to find the strike zone, Dove Creek starting pitcher Tyson Smith allowed two more runs in the second inning as Dolores pulled ahead 5-0.
Although Dove Creek battled back with two runs in the third, Dolores refused to yield, scoring five total runs over the last two innings to secure the victory.
“I thought we played OK,” explained Bulldogs’ manager Curtis Garver. “It’s still early in the season. We have to continue working on hitting, pitching and fielding.”
Cortez squeaks past Dove Creek
Playing what was by far the most entertaining contest of the tournament, M-CHS closed out the tournament with a hard-fought 6-5 victory over Dove Creek.
Early on in the contest, Dove Creek took control, pulling ahead 3-0 in the first inning after a two-run single by Colin Hobbs.
Three innings later, Cortez struck finally scored off Bulldogs’ starting pitcher Jordan Ernst when Keegan Ralstin drove in two runs with a hard line drive to right field.
Although Dove Creek battled back when Spencer Gatlin launched a long solo home run to left center field to give the Bulldogs a 4-3 lead, a three run fifth inning for the Panthers helped secure a 6-5 victory.
With the win, M-CHS improved to 4-0-1 on the year and captured the tournament title.
“We just have to keep working hard,” said Betts. “Our pitching is looking good. Now we just need to put hits together when we face better competition.”