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Montezuma-Cortez baseball opens league play with a sweep

Miles Frost pitches in a contest against Pagosa Springs. (Courtesy Jerry Cohoe)
Panthers shut down Pagosa Springs

When mid-April rolls around for baseball, the tenor of the contests seem to shift. League play gets underway across the state, and with it, some of the big rivalry games loom on the horizon.

For Montezuma-Cortez High School, this time of year offers the opportunity to get over the hump in the perennially difficult Intermountain League. Poised for one of the program’s all-time great seasons, the Panthers kicked off their conference slate this weekend with a pair of wins over Pagosa Springs, 11-4 and 3-1, to begin their push for a league title.

White-hot after winning the Trent Goscha Memorial Tournament in Carbondale – sweeping three games in three days against larger schools in the I-70 corridor – the Panthers (11-3, 2-0 3A IML) on Saturday looked to carry over momentum as their doubleheader sweep of the Pirates (5-10, 0-4 3A IML) opened a pivotal four-week stretch that will see M-CHS in the thick of the league title race and poised to potentially host a regional site in the 3A state tournament.

Evan LaMunyon pitches in the Game 1 victory Saturday over Pagosa Springs. (Courtesy Jerry Cohoe)
Freshman Darren Daves tags a Pagosa Springs player Saturday. (Courtesy Jerry Cohoe)
Jake Blackmer secures a high fly ball in a game Saturday against Pagosa Springs. (Jerry Cohoe)
Evan LaMunyon takes a full cut at the plate in a game Saturday against Pagosa Springs. (Courtesy Jerry Cohoe)
Freshman Darren Daves receives a pitch in a game Saturday against Pagosa Springs. (Courtesy Jerry Cohoe)

Multi-hit performances in the opener from senior Jake Blackmer and junior Miles Frost stirred the Panthers offense to life in the opening innings, as head coach Tim Passell’s group scored three runs in the third inning and five in the fourth to blow the game open.

Senior Evan LaMunyon pitched a complete game, striking out 10 Pirates, allowing only two earned runs in the win.

Freshman Cory Carver stroked a pair of doubles and scored four runs, while both LaMunyon and freshman Darren Daves reached safely multiple times to set the tone for the sweep.

In the back half of the doubleheader, Frost took the ball on the mound – and while the Panther offense quieted in the contest – the junior proved that he wouldn’t need much run support. Frost scattered four hits in his seven-inning gem, and LaMunyon and Daves came through offensively to scratch three runs across.

Frost fanned a dozen Pirates, and when Pagosa Springs did get a rare base runner, Daves pegged down five would-be base stealers, including the final out of the contest to send the Panthers to a 2-0 start to the league season.

Montezuma-Cortez enjoyed a fantastic weekend from Apr. 6-8 in the Aspen Valley, blitzing Glenwood Springs (30-11), Canon City (8-7), and Roaring Fork (12-1) to help the Panthers all but assure themselves the program’s first winning season in the Passell era.

The early IML standings see Bayfield atop the table with a 4-0 mark in league play, matching M-CHS’ 11-3 overall record – the Panthers and Wolverines will meet on Saturday, May 13 at Parque de Vida – but big games face the Panthers this week. Third-place Alamosa (9-5, 2-2 3A IML) will host M-CHS this Saturday, Apr. 22. In nonconference play, the Panthers will also meet San Juan (UT), seeking to avenge one of their three losses this season.