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Panthers drop IML contest to Alamosa

Montezuma-Cortez sophomore Braden Hallman takes a pitch against Alamosa in a 3A IML contest. (Ben Bradley/Special to The Journal)
Fast start for Mean Moose dooms M-CHS

After a two-week stretch where the Panther lineup battered opposing pitching in their six victories, the M-CHS offense fell silent on their home field against Alamosa, as the Panthers fell 6-2 to the Mean Moose.

During a red-hot stretch in late May, the Panthers offense churned out 85 runs in eight games, and went 6-2. However, the Mean Moose (8-4, 3-1 3A IML) had an answer for head coach Tim Passell’s Panthers (6-6, 3-3 3A IML), as Alamosa avenged their 8-5 loss against M-CHS from May 26.

Alamosa got to work right away against Panther starter Trinidad McDonell, pushing across two runs in the first inning, and three more in the second. Walks proved to be the Panthers’ undoing in the opening frames, as McDonell only allowed two base hits in his outing, but issued seven walks before senior Ty Blackmer came on in relief in the second inning.

From there, the Panthers settled down, as Ty Blackmer helped the offensive cause as well, driving home classmate Dylan Kibel with an RBI single in the first inning.

Then, with two outs and nobody on in the third inning, the Panthers threatened again. Ty Blackmer and senior Ernie Padilla drew walks, then sophomore Jake Blackmer drove a ball to the opposite field for an RBI single to cut the deficit to 5-2.

Montezuma-Cortez sophomore Braden Hallman takes a pitch against Alamosa in a 3A IML contest. (Ben Bradley/Special to The Journal)

The Panthers wouldn’t get any closer, as Blackmer dueled with Alamosa senior Tyler Duarte through scoreless middle frames, before Alamosa scratched another run across in the seventh.

The Panther senior mowed through the Mean Moose lineup up to that point, striking out 11 batters in 5.1 innings of work.

The last gasp for the Panthers ended with a pair of base runners aboard, but Duarte collected his fourth strikeout of the afternoon to pick up the victory for the visitors.

Both teams struggled to put the bat on the ball, in a game that saw a combined 18 strikeouts and 15 walks. Sophomore Evan LaMunyon reached base three times, all courtesy of free passes, among the eight walks registered by the Panthers.

The loss leaves M-CHS in third place in the 3A Intermountain League, with a pivotal stretch at home coming up.

Ranked 17th in Colorado’s 3A classification – based on its wins, losses and strength of schedule – two weeks before the 24-team regional tournaments, M-CHS will close out league play against Centauri June 5 at Parque de Vida in Cortez, before taking on white-hot rival Durango on June 8 for a 5 p.m. clash.