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Montezuma-Cortez’s hot streak ends in regional final

Panther sophomore Darren Daves and the M-CHS baseball team came up one win short of a return trip to the state tournament, closing out a 16-9 season with a second straight league title. Ben Bradley/Special to The Journal
Coal Ridge knocks out M-CHS one game shy of state tournament

NEW CASTLE – A resilient Montezuma-Cortez baseball team found themselves right back on the precipice of a second straight regional title and appearance in the state tournament bracket.

Their run fell one game short, as the Panthers and head coach Jake Huff closed out a league championship season with a 13-3 defeat to No. 5 seed Coal Ridge on the Titans’ home field Saturday afternoon. No. 12 M-CHS (16-9) had advanced to the regional final courtesy of a back-and-forth 8-7 victory over No. 21 Valley earlier in the day.

While the Panthers never trailed the Vikings in their regional opener, the Panthers needed every one of their eight runs – three apiece in the fourth and fifth innings – to extend their winning streak to eight.

The momentum appeared to carry over into their matchup against the Titans, with M-CHS scoring twice in the top of the second inning to hold an early edge. Coal Ridge responded with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the inning, then took a lead they wouldn’t relinquish with big innings in the third and fourth frames.

A trio of seniors – Dean York, Cash Clark, and Miles Frost – saw their days in orange and black draw to a close, capping careers as part of a fantastic four year stretch where the program finished .500 or better each season. Their success included a pair of IML titles, and the program’s first ever state tournament appearance in 2023.

The Panthers, still very young, return a wealth of talent in 2025 seeking a league three-peat along with ambitions of another postseason run.