The Panthers took right steps at McAndrew Field last Friday and Saturday, but theyve still yet to win in the extremely competitive Southwestern League, falling to Grand Junction, 11-0, and Grand Junction Central, 27-17.
For Montezuma-Cortez High School (4-8, 0-4 5A/4A SL), it marks the fourth-straight loss, and other than a game at Bayfield on April 26, things dont appear to be getting any easier.
One of the biggest things I told the guys is to be able to play with the Grand Junctions and those teams, M-CHS coach Sam Perry said. We have to come out with a sense of urgency and a readiness to play. We cant make mistakes thats going to give them extra outs and extra base runners. We cant afford that. I think our preparation has been great. It is just the desire to come out here and compete is what we really want to focus on.
Against the Tigers of Grand Junction (10-2, 4-1 SWL), the Panthers trailed early 1-0 and got first-inning hits from pitcher/first baseman Chris Black and second baseman Devin Fox. But M-CHS couldnt bring Black and Fox home.
The Tigers tacked on three more runs in the second to take a 4-0 lead and they never looked back. Behind strong pitching, Grand Junction froze the Panthers bats, only allowing three more hits and no runs.
Black and Fox each hit 2-for-3 in the contest.
The following day against Grand Junction Central (9-4, 2-2 SWL) was a cold and windy afternoon, but the bats were on fire for both teams. The Panthers and Warriors combined for 40 hits.
However, GJC earned eight more hits and the plate rsulting in a 10-point win. Costly M-CHS errors resulted in extra runs for the opposition. The Panthers committed 10 errors in the game.
Trailing 17-4 in the bottom of the third, it looked as if the Warriors would conquer after five-innings. M-CHS began to fight. Black and third baseman/pitcher Manuel Hernandez each hit RBI-singles that scored two runs apiece. The Panthers sent two more home to get back in that game at 17-11 at the end of three innings.
M-CHS held serve in the top of the fourth, but couldnt take advantage and went scoreless in the bottom half.
GJC scored five runs in the top of the fifth against Hernandez on the mound to go up 22-11. But back came the Panthers behind Black and Hernandez at the plate. Hernandez hit a two-run RBI-single in the fifth to keep the game going. M-CHS added one more in the fifth to cut it to 22-14.
Every time the Panthers rallied, the Warriors countered. In the sixth, GJC got four more runs and those four runs were answered by M-CHS to make it 26-17. Black hit an RBI-double that cleared the bases, sending three runners home. But that was as close as the Panthers got.
Were just giving good teams too many outs when they only need 21 outs; were giving them more than that. Thats whats hurting us now, assistant coach Jason Hernandez said. Pitching, we are what we are. Hitting wise, we got 17 runs against a good team and thats something to build on.
Hernandez hit 5-for-5 with five RBIs and Black was 4-for-5 with five RBIs.
We should of started hitting in the beginning. That would have made a lot of difference, Manuel Hernandez said. Pitching, it was kind of OK. It was cold out there, and your hands were just frozen.
Now the Panthers face a rival Durango team that is coming off of a home sweep of the Grand Junction teams. M-CHS looks to build on its offensive momentum heading into Thursday.
Another tough league game. Hopefully this will carry us into Durango, Jason Hernandez said.
If we keep up the hitting like we were hitting in this game, we might beat Durango, Manuel Hernadez said.
First pitch is at 4 p.m. on Thursday at McAndrew Field.
Reach Bobby Abplanalp at firstname.lastname@example.org