Panthers lose to SW League foes

M-CHS baseball team plays well early, can’t hang on late during weekend losses

Taren Lanier snags the ball on the bounce and throws a runner out at second in the Central game on April 4. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Taren Lanier snags the ball on the bounce and throws a runner out at second in the Central game on April 4.

For several years, the Montezuma-Cortez High School baseball team served as a whipping boy for fellow Southwest League teams.

These days, the Panthers still struggle to beat their league opponents, but after a solid weekend, it appears that M-CHS could soon win a league game.

Panthers fall to Grand Junction Central

Opening the weekend at home against Grand Junction Central on April 4, the Panthers battled hard in route to a 14-3 loss.

Early on in the contest, M-CHS appeared primed to score an upset as the Panthers scored one run in the first inning after an infield single by Randy Haley drove in Taren Lanier from third.

Dominating on the mound early was Panthers’ senior Dayne Black, who, showing off an impressive fastball, held Central to two runs through the game’s first three innings.

After a two-out single by Konnar McGee scored Eddie Martinez to put the Panthers ahead 3-2 however, the wheels came off the M-CHS wagon.

Struggling to maintain a rhythm, Black was yielded two runs in the fourth, four runs in the fifth before being relieved by Ian Roberson.

“I stopped hitting my spots,” explained Black. “Our team went into relaxed mode, we quit putting pressure on them and we crumbled after that.”

With the loss, the Panthers dropped to 5-5-1 on the year, while Central improved to 9-3.

Panthers lose to Grand Junction

Hoping to rebound against Grand Junction on April 5, the Panthers again got off to a solid start before eventually losing, 7-3.

Leading 2-0 entering the fourth inning, Panthers starting pitcher Andrew Laymon ran into trouble, allowing consecutive run scoring singles to Grand Junction batters Owen Taylor and Tristan Lafferty.

Although the Panthers escaped the inning with the score tied at two, five Grand Junction runs over the game’s final three innings sealed the Panthers’ fate.

“They capitalized when I missed my spots, so that’s sort of a learning lesson to always keep control.”

“I think we’re scared to beat a Junction team,” added Panthers’ manager Mathew Betts. Honestly, I don’t know why we can’t play in the sixth and the seventh.”

With their record now at 5-6-1 on the year, the Panthers will next play at home against Shiprock High School on April 8.