Photo by Wayne Crick Marcus Garcia (left) is unable to come up with a tag on this Durango runner in Saturday’s tournament finale in Delta. Garcia, and the host Panthers, did come from behind in the seventh inning to win the game, 8-7, on a walk to Isaiah Kathrein.Delta High School's baseball season began with success as the Panthers completed a three-game weekend resulting in victory for each. Delta hosted a segment of the annual 13th Annual Lloyd McMillan Memorial baseball tournament that is split between Montrose and Delta.
Playing in Delta were teams from Alamosa, Emery, Utah, and Durango. The Panthers finished the weekend with three wins and no losses.
On Friday, March 15, Delta took on Alamosa and defeated the Mean Moose 14-3 to open its season. The Panthers played two games on Saturday with Emery, Utah, the first opponent Saturday afternoon. Delta turned back its second foe by the score of 7-4.
The tournament's final game featured Delta and undefeated Durango in a late afternoon contest. Both teams played well, but it was Delta getting the winning run in its last at bat to secure an 8-7 win.
Delta 14, Alamosa 4
A huge second inning, in which the Panthers scored eight runs after sending 13 batters to the plate, provided more than enough run support for Delta winning pitcher Keaton Reiher. The Panthers had eight hits in the inning with Lino Ortiz going two for two.
Delta accumulated 17 hits in the rout with Tyler Sandoval's inside-the-park home run highlighting fourth-inning play. Sandoval's blast soared over the right fielder's head and rolled all the way to the fence. Sandoval scampered around the bases, chasing Reiher and Kenny Wood who had reached base previously.
Sandoval was the game's hitting star for Delta with three hits in four at bats and five RBIs. Reiher was also three for four with an RBI for the Panthers.
A three-run fourth inning for Alamosa threatened to prolong the game, but Austin Kimber struck out Skyler Timmins to end the game.
Reiher picked up the win for Delta.
Delta 7, Emery 4
Emery fell behind 2-1 after one inning on a Jeremiah Baier home run that also scored Reiher on the hit.
Defense was good enough to keep either team from scoring for the next two innings. Emery took a brief lead in the top half of the fourth inning. Two Emery runners reached base and eventually reached home on a pair of singles.
In the bottom half of the fourth, Sandoval reached base on a single and Marcus Garcia drove him home with a double. Isaiah Kathrein's single plated Garcia and the Panthers had regained the lead 4-3.
In the fifth, Derek Horn reached base on a walk and eventually made it home on a passed ball to make the score 5-3 heading into the sixth.
The Panthers picked up two more runs in the sixth and owned a 7-3 lead with Emery coming to bat in the top of the seventh.
Delta's defense gave up one run to make the final score 7-4.
Five players; Reiher, Baier, Sandoval, Garcia and Kathrein all had two hits in the game for the Panthers.
Horn went three and two-thirds of an inning to pick up the win.
Delta 8, Durango 7
In Saturday's finale, Delta had to come from behind to salvage the win over a scrappy Demon's team.
Durango pummeled the Panthers last year and this year's Delta team was ready to play.
The Demons started the game with two runs on three hits in the top half of the first inning. Not to be outdone, or intimidated, the Panthers retaliated with a five-run explosion that was helped along with three hits and four walks.
The Demons scored once in the second frame, as did Delta, to keep the Panther's lead at three, 6-3.
Neither team scored in the third, but both did plate one run in the fourth inning.
A sixth-inning rally provided three runs for Durango, tying the game at 7-7 with Delta coming to bat in the bottom of the seventh after the Demons failed to score in the top of the inning.
Jeremiah Baier grounded out to the pitcher for Delta's first out of the inning. After that, the Panthers proceeded to load the bases on singles from Garcia, Austin Kimber and Ortiz. With the game on the line, Kathrein showed extra patience and was able to draw a walk that plated the winning run.
Sandoval was once again instrumental in helping the Panthers win, with four hits in four at bats.
Sandoval had four RBIs and Kathrein was close behind with three for the winners. Sandoval was also the winning pitcher.
Connor Dugan, Blake Dunlap and Isiah Mayberry all had three hits apiece for Durango.
Two players who made the last-inning rally possible were Lino Ortiz and Isaiah Kathrein. When asked how he felt on driving in the tying run, Ortiz had this to say. "I feel great. I knew the team had my back." On the pitch Ortiz hit, "It was an inside fastball. I got around on it and I guess I gave it a pretty good knock."
Kathrein's good eye at the plate proved to be the game-winning difference. According to Kathrein, "I know the strike zone and I don't like having an umpire take the bat out of my hands. I was trusting the umpire to make the right call."
Kathrein wasn't too impressed with his play on the mound to start the game, but the win changed his attitude. "I feel pretty good after not having a good outing on the mound and then being pinch-hit for."
Delta shows signs of being a legitimate contender in the 4A WSL. In talking with Delta coach Marty Rover about the game against Durango, he gave Kathrein a solid plug for his efforts. "He's (Kathrein) is a good kid. He gave us a chance to win the game because he bulldogged his way through the tough times on the mound."
Rover is babying the pitching staff in early-season play by limiting them to approximately 60 pitches per outing. As they become more conditioned, the number of pitches could conceivably go up.
This year's group of players has plenty of promise. "This is a special group of kids. They're fun kids to go out to practice with each day. Each one of them cares about what they do and about each other," noted Rover.
Delta takes on Montrose this Thursday at 4 p.m. in Delta.