The Delta Lady Panthers ended Game 1 of their Sept. 25 doubleheader enforcing the ground rules on their home diamond.
But Montezuma-Cortez Lady Panthers refused to go quietly from their home away from home this fall and backed up their claim in Game 2.
Montezuma-Cortez High School managed to recover from a five-run (12-7) loss with a five-run (17-12) win — guaranteeing them no worse than a .500 finish in Western Slope League play with two circuit contests remaining.
In victory, eight sixth-inning scores proved the difference for Montezuma-Cortez. Winning pitcher Taiah Wilson’s bat created two of those and three total, with runner Emily Davidovich doing the honors after Wilson (2-4, HBP) reached base. Leftfielder Koral Jackson (3-3, BB, HBP) and third baseman Bri Comisky (2-3, BB, HBP) also scored three times each during the shootout. First baseman Erin Brown (3-4) scored twice as Anthony “Hippo” Frost’s 6-9 hitters proved most effective.
Atop the order, catcher Allie Kibel went 2-5 with a double, two runs and a reported four RBIs. Second baseman Hailey Veach went 2-4, was hit by a pitch, and scored twice — helping the Lady Panthers overcome a 7-0 deficit after two innings. M-CHS (9-5, 6-4 WSL) scored two runs in both the third and fourth frames, then another five in the fifth to tie the score at 9-all. Delta regained an 11-9 advantage in the top of the sixth, but M-CHS responded with an authoritative eight runs, leaving Delta trailing by six.
Delta backstop Keely Porter (2-4, 3 R, 2 RBI) homered with two away in the top of the seventh, but Wilson then got Teja Smith (3-5, 3 R, RBI) to bounce out to Veach to end the day.
The day began upbeat; M-CHS held a 2-1 lead through two innings in Game 1, via a Veach first-inning single scoring Lizzie Likes, and a second-inning Likes double scoring Davidovich. But helped by a Tatem Miller leadoff double, followed by a Juelz Sandoval RBI-single and subsequent Porter two-run homer, Delta forcibly regained a 5-2 upper hand.
Montezuma-Cortez snatched two runs back in the top of the fifth and forged ahead with three in the sixth thanks to a Kibel RBI-double that scored Comisky and a Likes single that brought in Brown and Kibel.
Unfortunately, the Delta County Lady Panthers (8-4, 8-2 WSL) began their reply, rapping five consecutive singles and scoring four go-ahead runs against Wilson (L, CG; 12 R, BB, 4 K) en route to a victory-clinching seven.
Jackson led off with a single but was cut down near third base by a 6-5 fielder’s choice. Retired via a similar FC, Davidovich also was denied the hot corner, and the game ended when Comisky — who’d reached base in between Jackson and Davidovich — was thrown out 5-2 at home plate after third baseman Ava Shaball managed to handle a threatening Kibel chopper.
Likes finished 3-for-3 in defeat and was hit by a pitch, while Wilson, Veach and Jackson each went 3-4. Kibel went 2-4 with a walk. The potent Porter reached base a crucial four times for Delta and scored thrice, while Miller, Sandoval and Smith each logged two runs — meaning skipper Jerry Sandoval’s top four sticks combined for nine.
Juelz Sandoval would finish Game 2 3-for-4 with a triple, two runs and an RBI, while Shaball enjoyed a 4-4 outing featuring a double, run and one RBI.
Closing out regular-season work, Montezuma-Cortez will return to Delta Oct. 2, for a neutral-site double-header versus Meeker beginning no earlier than 11 a.m. (At press time, a 2 p.m. start was being considered.) Idle since bashing Basalt 18-3 to end a Sept. 15 two-fer in Rio Blanco County, the Cowgirls will arrive 6-8 overall and a fifth-place 5-5 in league — one notch below M-CHS.
Having virtually secured the Western Slope crown, Delta will that same day visit 0-12 Aspen and second-place Basalt (7-7, 7-4). Sixth-place Gunnison (6-9, 3-8) was to have sewn up their regular-season slate on the 29th at home versus third-place Cedaredge (9-5, 7-4).