Entering an April 19 home game against Durango High School, the Montezuma-Cortez High School baseball team knew they were in for a battle.
Refusing to back down from a school roughly twice their size however, the Panthers put together their finest performance of the season, losing 4-2 in a well-played contest.
Starring on the mound for the Panthers was junior Konnar McGee, who, pitching with outstanding poise, limited Durango to two runs over the game’s first four innings.
“I was just able to hit my spots,” said McGee. “I got a little wild and that’s when they scored their runs, but everything was clicking…”
Countering McGee on the mound was Durango’s Lawrence Mayberry, who, utilizing a solid fastball and consistent secondary pitches, kept M-CHS off balance.
The Panthers finally broke through in the fourth inning however, cutting Durango’s a 2-0 Durango lead in half after a two-out run scoring single by Andrew Laymon.
“We’re starting to come together,” said Laymon. “We focused before the game, everybody shortened their swings up and we put the ball in play.”
Trailing 2-1 entering the fifth inning, the Panthers handed the ball to Dayne Black and the senior did not disappoint, throwing three solid innings and allowing two runs.
Especially impressive for Black was a clutch two-out strikeout with the bases loaded in the sixth inning, which kept the game close.
Two controversial calls in the top of the seventh inning contributed to two Durango runs however and despite a seventh inning RBI single by Kevin Morales, the Panthers fell just short.
Even so, the fact that the Panthers played one of their finest games of the year was not lost on M-CHS manager Mathew Betts, who praised his team’s performance.
“They played baseball like I know they can for the first time this season,” said Betts.
With their home schedule now complete, the Panthers will look to improve their 5-11-1 record during a difficult season-ending road trip that pits M-CHS against Grand Junction (April 25) and Grand Junction Central (April 26).
“I want these guys to start sending a message to everybody we play to not take us lightly, especially going into next season” said Betts. “If they do, they’re going to lose a game to little Cortez.”