Delta's Panthers are sitting in second place in 3A WSL baseball standings with a 3-3 record following last week's split against Grand Junction and Montrose. The Panthers came from behind to slip past Grand Junction, 6-5, on Tuesday, March 20 but fell short in another comeback bid against Montrose in an 8-4 loss on Saturday.
Against Grand Junction the Panthers gave up a pair of runs on a two-RBI double from Jared Hanks in the first inning with no outs. Delta starting pitcher Drake Horn got Christian Hafey to ground out, struck out Chavis Nourse and Mason Naramore's fly to Dylan Hollenbeck in center field retired the side.
Delta countered with two runs of its own in the bottom half of the first with Jaspar Carmichael and Josh Reeder scoring after reaching base on errors.
The Tigers broke the 2-2 tie in the third inning with two hits and two more runs to take a 4-2 lead to the fifth inning.
A two-out single from Rowyn Carmichael drove in designated hitter Nolan Bynum, who had reached base on a single, to make the score 4-3 going to the sixth inning.
Hanks was hit by a pitch to give the Tigers a baserunner with one out in the top of the seventh. He would later score on Naramore's bases-loaded walk to push Grand Junction's lead to 5-3 with Delta coming to bat in the bottom half of the inning.
Kolby Keller gave the Panthers their first baserunner after reaching base on an error and Jaspar Carmichael stroked a single giving the Panthers runners at the corners. Bynum singled to drive in Keller which brought up Reeder. A sharp double from Reeder (third hit of the game) plated Carmichael and Bynum for a 6-5 Panther lead heading to the top of the seventh.
Jaspar Carmichael, who relieved Horn after three innings, walked Jared Chapman for the game's potential tying run. Grand Junction's Dawson Wiehl laced a line drive toward shortstop that looked to be on its way to left field. Sophomore Skyler Kraai had replaced Carmichael at short when he came on to relieve Horn in the fourth inning. Kraai dived to his right and laid out to make a spectacular catch for one out, then scrambled to his feet and doubled Wiehl off first base on a laser throw to KC Carlson at first for the double play.
Carmichael gave up a walk to Levi Prall before getting Sergio Moreno to end the game on a fly ball to Hollenbeck in center field.
Delta finished the game with six runs on 11 hits while the Tigers had six hits and five runs in the game.
Reeder was Delta's leading batter with three hits in four at bats, including a double, with two RBIs. He also scored two runs for the Panthers. Jaspar Carmichael was 2-4, scored twice, had a double and also knocked in two runs in the win. Bynum had two hits and scored three times.
Prall had two of Grand Junction's six hits and scored three times for the Tigers. Naramore had two RBIs in the loss.
Jaspar Carmichael (2-1) was the winning pitcher with four innings of work, allowing just one hit, one run and striking out six Tigers.
Delta coach Steve Reiher spoke on how big the win over Grand Junction was for his Panthers. "It was big! Even though Grand Junction was winless, they are hungry. We gotta start winning games like these."
The play by Kraai was matter of fact for the sophomore shortstop. "I knew I was going to get the ball. I didn't really think about how it happened." When asked how he felt afterwards, "pretty good," was all he could say with a broad smile.
Jaspar Carmichael was asked about his clutch performance. He had inherited a bases loaded situation with no outs in the top of the fourth inning. All he did was strike out the side to leave the runners stranded. "I've been there before and knew I had nothing to lose. My job was to work hard and leave those runners on base," quoted Carmichael.
As the Panthers' leading hitter in the game, Reeder was asked about his frame of mind before his two-run double to score the game's winning runs. "I knew I was in a zone and hit the pitch I was looking for."
Saturday's non-conference against Montrose was close for four innings. Delta enjoyed an early 1-0 lead for the first three innings. That lead came on a Reeder home run (second of the season) to left field. Reeder has had multiple hits in four of the six games played so far this season.
Four Montrose runs in the fifth and another three in the sixth added to Delta's frustration. The Indians held an 8-1 lead going to the bottom of the seventh.
Delta found its bats and banged out enough hits to come up with three runs to make the final score 8-4.
Coach Reiher knows his Panthers have the talent to do things that produce a win but just haven't found out for themselves they have the ability to get those wins. "We definitely had our chances today. We're young and need to improve on our approach at the plate. We took way too many good pitches today (against Montrose). We're improving and we're going to get there!"
Rowyn Carmichael was 2-3, scored a run and had two RBIs for the Panthers in the loss. Reeder also had two hits, scored a run with an RBI and had a home run.
Jayden Lopez had three hits and two doubles for the Indians with Tristan Church and Dylan James recording two hits each as well. Dillon Shaw had a double and two RBIs for the winners.
Lopez earned the win with seven innings of work, allowed nine hits and four runs with eight strike outs.
Hollenbeck took the loss for Delta and is 2-2 for the season.
Delta's next opponent is Roosevelt for doubleheader action on April 3 with the first game scheduled for a 1 p.m. start.
The Panthers host Coal Ridge on Saturday (March 31) at 11 a.m. and then face Gunnison in Delta on April 3 at 3 p.m.