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Montezuma-Cortez earns home regional, prepares for exciting weekend

Miles Frost pitches in a contest against Pagosa Springs. (Courtesy Jerry Cohoe)
Panthers land No. 5 seed, will host Gunnison

The 2023 spring has been all about historical achievements for Montezuma-Cortez high School baseball.

The Panthers get one more chance to showcase their talent in front of the home faithful, with the stakes at their highest level in program history.

After winning 13 of their final 14 games of the regular season, head coach Tim Passell’s Panthers (19-4) prepare for what they hope will be a memorable run in the 3A postseason. The Panthers landed a home regional site for the opening two rounds, with a straightforward objective: win twice and earn a spot in the 3A state tournament in Greeley over the weekend of May 26-27.

The route to the final eight, however, will require M-CHS to navigate their regional, where the win-or-go home drama of playoff baseball will be in full force at McAndrew Field on Saturday, May 20.

Evan LaMunyon pitches in the Game 1 victory over Pagosa Springs. (Courtesy Jerry Cohoe)

M-CHS gets set to host No. 28 Gunnison (10-12, 4-5 3A WSL), the fifth-place squad out of the 3A Western Slope League in the opening round. The Cowboys posted victories over Centauri, and showed a propensity to be able to score runs in shootout losses against Alamosa and Pagosa Springs.

The other contest in the Region 5 pod will pit No. 12 Berthoud (15-8, 10-3 3A Patriot) against No. 21 The Classical Academy (11-8, 6-2 CSML North) with the winner set to face the Panther/Cowboy victor. The Spartans, from just south of Loveland, sport heavy-hitting junior Connor Jorrisen at the heart of the order, coming off a season of hitting .418 with team highs in hits and extra-base knocks, while the Titans from Colorado Springs boast a trio of pitching options that have navigated the tough hitters of while striking out an average of a batter per inning in their body of work.

Montezuma-Cortez enjoyed an incredible regular season, winning a share of the IML title with No. 3 seed Bayfield, while profiting from incredible seasons from freshmen Cory Carver and Darren Daves, while seniors Evan LaMunyon and Braden Hallman made the Panther top of the order one of the most feared offenses in the state. LaMunyon and junior Miles Frost, along with senior Jake Blackmer took to the hill for Passell’s pitching staff, and the trio will look to tame opposition this weekend in front of a big crowd at Parque de Vida on Saturday.

The Panthers and Cowboys will kick off a busy day of action at McAndrew Field in Cortez at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 20, with the Berthoud/TCA matchup slated to follow. Then, the winners of the two regional semifinals will take to the field to vie for one of eight coveted state tournament spots on Saturday afternoon.