A tough weekend series at Fruita Monument was quickly put behind the Durango High School baseball team.
After losing the 5A/4A Southwestern League to the Wildcats with two losses – Durango’s first two losses all season – in a road doubleheader Saturday, the Demons came right back Tuesday for a trip to Montezuma-Cortez for a non-league finale to the regular season.
Class 4A third-ranked DHS (14-2, 6-2 SWL) got on base any way it could and pushed runs across the plate in bunches on the way to a 19-2 victory.
Durango is still the top-team in the CHSAA Class 4A RPI standings and third in the CHSAANow.com coaches poll. The Demons will expect to host one of the eight three-team regionals when brackets are announced Sunday.
“The guys have been focused since those losses Saturday,” DHS head coach Rob Coddington said. “Now, we’re going to be off for a few days with some time to heal up and rest, and we’re looking forward to seeing who we are going to play in a regional Monday.”
Montezuma-Cortez (8-7, 5-3 3A/2A Intermountain League) was limited to one run in the second and another in the fifth by DHS starting pitcher Elias Fiddler.
Ernie Padilla came through with a one-out single in the second and later scored on a two-out single by Korie Likes. In the fifth, Likes led off with a single and would score on a two-out single by Dylan Kibel.
In five innings of work, Fiddler allowed only five hits and two walks. He struck out three. Cal Walsh pitched two innings in relief to slam the door on the Panthers. Walsh allowed two hits and walked one while he struck out three.
“Elias was very efficient in his five innings,” Coddington said. “Walsh came in and shut them down. The guys all kept their focus, and we are looking forward now to going to the playoffs.”
Montezuma-Cortez starting pitcher Ty Blackmer went 4 2/3 innings. He faced 10 batters in the first inning, as DHS scored five times with help from a pair of Panther errors.
Gage Mestas led off with a walk and proceeded to steal second and third bases. He would score when Chase Robertson reached on an error. Fiddler, who had drawn a one-out walk and then stolen second base, also scored in the inning, as did Robertson, Niko Mestas and Noah Pritchard, who drove in a run with a single. It was 5-0 after one inning.
In the second, Walsh led off with a single and Fiddler followed with another. They both scored in the inning, as would Robertson in a frame filled with passed balls and wild pitches. DHS added another run in the third to make it 9-1, as Gage Mestas singled and scored on a Walsh groundout to first.
Gage Mestas would add another RBI single in the fifth inning to score Thomas Barnes, and he would score his third of five runs in the game later in the inning. He finished 3-for-4 with an RBI and a walk.
A Ben Finneseth double in the seventh would be the only extra-base hit in the game for DHS. The Demons walked 11 times and tallied 13 hits in all against Blackmer and relievers Padilla and Trinidad McDonnell.
“We swung it well, but we drew a lot of walks,” Coddington said. “Found a way to get on base and score, which is a good approach.”