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Montezuma-Cortez withstands rain delay, advances to regional final

After fielding the ball, pitcher Evan LaMunyon throws to first base for an out Saturday against Gunnison.Sam Green/Special to The Journal
Panthers holds off Gunnison 7-4, will host final Sunday

Winning a regional game sure feels sweet, no matter how long it took.

Withstanding a six-hour delay in their regional opener against Gunnison, Montezuma-Cortez showed the focus of a team with a purpose, closing out the tight contest with the Cowboys, 7-4, at McAndrew Field in Cortez.

Now, No. 5 M-CHS (20-4) gears up for a Sunday contest against the winner of No. 12 Berthoud and No. 21 The Classical Academy, who saw their semifinal contest pushed to Sunday morning at 10 a.m. The regional title game is slated for approximately 12:30, where the Panthers will send junior Miles Frost to the mound.

Their high aspirations nearly came to a screeching halt on Saturday, as No. 28 Gunnison (10-13) showed plenty of grit for a sub-.500 club, scoring first against Panther starter Evan LaMunyon, before freshman Darren Daves leveled the score on an RBI single in the bottom half of the first inning.

Lyle Carver stretches to try and catch a foul ball Saturday against Gunnison.Sam Green/Special to The Journal
Lyle Carver catches as fly ball for an out. Sam Green/Special to The Journal
Cory Carver dives into home base after a wild pitch to score for the Panthers. Sam Green/Special to The Journal

M-CHS looked to take command of the game in the third, scoring three times to take a 4-1 advantage, with senior Dorrian Hilliard and freshman Cory Carver scoring on a wild pitch and an error to spark life into the home dugout.

However, Gunnison scored once in the fourth, then loaded the bases in the fifth, looking to tie the game. On a sinking liner to centerfield, senior Gabriel Crowley robbed a base hit with a headfirst diving grab, limiting the damage, and keeping M-CHS out in front, 4-3.

Then, the skies opened up. After threatening for the first few innings, rain and subsequent hail put a stop to action, and left both teams wondering if they would be able to find a winner on Saturday.

With a full community effort to get the field playable after the afternoon rain, the Panthers and Cowboys would march back onto the diamond just after 5 p.m. with the game still very much in the balance.

M-CHS got the jolt of energy they needed with the resumption of play, as Hilliard reached base, and Carver, who had been held in check up to that point, launched a two-run home run to put the Panthers in front, 7-4.

LaMunyon closed out his complete game, shutting down Gunnison’s final threat in the seventh, and sending M-CHS to the regional final.

The winner of M-CHS and either Berthoud or TCA will move on to Greeley next weekend, May 26-27, for the first of two state championship weekends. The Panthers will learn their regional final foe after action tomorrow morning at Parque de Vida, and will hope for a big crowd to cheer them on for their projected 12:30 start.