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505 Panthers to compete in Denver Connie Mack regional

Farmington-based team will face competition outside New Mexico in World Series qualifier
505 Panthers pitcher Jacob Kuhn delivers to the plate during the second inning of a Connie Mack City League game against the Frackers, Tuesday, May 30, 2023 at Ricketts Park.

FARMINGTON – The 505 Panthers, one of the top teams after a few games of the current Connie Mack city league season, will get a feel of perhaps tougher competition when they compete in regional tournament action in Denver later this month.

Coached by John Kuhn, the 505 Panthers are preparing for a doubleheader this weekend when they face the Kirtland Broncos and Shiprock Dodgers at Ricketts Park on Saturday. The Panthers opened the season with a 7-5 loss to the Frackers before rolling over the 505 Panthers Black by a final of 13-2.

“We’ve got a big stretch of games coming up, and then we’re looking forward to seeing really good competition in Denver,” Kuhn said.

Ryan Ray is the current offensive leader for the Panthers, hitting .600 for the season with five runs batted in. Jacob Kuhn, Juan Medrano and Aidan Joyce have all scored three times after just a pair of games.

Rio Rancho High School's Vascon Smith, one of the top performers on last season's Class 5A state champion baseball team, is expected to have an impact this season playing for the Albuquerque Baseball Academy.

The 505 Panthers will be one of 14 teams to compete in the Five Tool Colorado AABC Connie Mack World Series Qualifier, which will begin on Tuesday, June 20. Among the teams also set to compete in that tournament will be the Albuquerque Baseball Academy, which competed in the 2022 Connie Mack World Series.

The ABA squad, which features several players from New Mexico-based high school teams which played in the final four rounds of the NMAA state baseball tournament, are led by Sandia High’s Danny Santiago.

Santiago finished his senior season at Sandia High hitting .431 with 23 runs batted in while leading the Matadors to the Class 5A semifinals before being eliminated by Centennial High.

The ABA squad also features a pair of players from the 5A state champion Rio Rancho Rams, including Seth Lee, who was the winning pitcher in the title game over Centennial on May 13. Vascon Smith, a recent commit to the University of New Mexico, had an outstanding postseason, going 6-for-10 at the plate with eight runs batted in and a pair of home runs.

Lucas Martinez, who was one of the top performers on the Class 4A state baseball champion St. Pius Sartans, also is on the ABA roster.

A recent commit to Antelope Valley College in Lancaster, California, Martinez is a .331 hitter over three seasons for the Sartans. He was the fourth leading player on the team last season with 25 runs batted in.

In addition to the ABA and the 505 Panthers, the Denver regional event will feature three additional teams from New Mexico, as well as five from Colorado and four from Texas. The tournament games will be held at Metropolitan State University in Denver.

For more information on the Denver regional event, check out the tournament’s official page at fivetool.org.