Following two wins and a loss last week, Delta High School's baseball team is 4-3 on the season. The Panthers are 1-0 in 3A WSL action and lead the league standings with Gunnison (4-1, 1-0), Basalt (1-1, 1-0), Olathe (0-6, 0-1) and Roaring Fork (0-3, 0-1) rounding out the top five. Cedaredge's Bruins (4-3, 0-0) are listed eighth after last week's play.
Delta began its week of play with the No. 1 ranked 2A team, Paonia, in Paonia. The Eagles stayed unbeaten with a 4-2 win.
The Panthers traveled to Rifle to face Class 4A Erie (1-5, 1-2) on Thursday, March 23. Delta used a five-run seventh inning to score a 7-6 win.
Delta was in Montrose on Saturday, March 25, and held the lead from the second inning on to record a 5-2 victory over the 4A Indians.
Paonia 4, Delta 2
It was a normal day on the field with neither team showing much anxiety. The two teams on the field have been rivals for many years. Paonia (3-0) is leading the 2A District 3/5 baseball standings ahead of Hotchkiss (2-1), Dolores (2-3), Ignacio (1-3), Rangely (0-3) and Meeker (0-0).
The Panthers went quietly in the first inning with just four batters coming to the plate. Paonia started its half of the first inning with Slater Podgorny's single. Alex Lozano flew out to right field for the first out and Kayden Seriani stroked a single giving the Eagles two base runners. Trevor Smith was up next and he flew out to center field for Paonia's second out. A walk was issued to Dagan Rienks and Ethan Keller struck out Kelby Carver to retire the side with no runs scored.
Delta got an infield hit from Jaspar Carmichael but he was left stranded on base after Seriani struck out Darien Rodriguez to retire the side.
Paonia put together a three-hit inning which produced a pair of runs in the bottom of the second inning. Colby Simpson reached base on a single and Anders Schopp reached base on a throwing error after laying down a bunt. Garrett Beck hit into a fielder's choice for Paonia's first out.
Podgorny got his second hit in the game to score Simpson and a single by Lozano scored Schopp to give Paonia a 2-0 lead after two innings of play.
The Panthers got rolling in the top of the third when Damon Jensen led off with a single. Seriani walked Blake Reiher and Jensen reached third on a wild pitch later in the inning. Seriani struck out Tristan Brown for Delta's second out but was greeted with a double off the bat of Justin Violett to score Jensen and Reiher. Keller gave the Panthers a runner with his single only to have Carmichael fly out to second base to end the Panthers rally.
Delta failed to score in the top of the fourth with just three batters facing Seriani in the inning.
Paonia began the inning with Violett picking up a ground ball to retire Beck for the first out. Podgorny's third hit of the game was a single giving the Eagles a runner. Keller struck out Lozano to bring Seriani to the plate. A towering fly ball to left field was well beyond the fence for a two-run dinger and a 4-2 lead. After a pair of walks, Keller struck out Carver to end the inning.
Another three up and three down fifth inning gave Seriani his eighth strikeout of the game.
Neither team threatened the rest of the way.
Seriani was the winning pitcher with seven innings pitched, four hits, three walks, two runs and eight strikeouts. Dylan Hollenbeck came on in the fourth inning for Delta and was saddled with the loss.
Podgorny's three hits led Paonia batters in that category while Seriani's two RBIs paced the Eagles in that category.
Violett's 1-3 day at the plate, including his double, was tops for Panther batters.
Coach Nate Miller credited his Eagles for playing well against the Panthers. "I thought the game went exactly the way I thought it would, but I couldn't tell you who would win. Coach Reiher does a great job with his team and I feel they're better than the ranking they have. After a slow start Kayden dialed in about the fourth inning. It's a luxury to have someone like him (Seriani) in the bullpen. Our pitching group is strong and we can afford to have him go a little longer if needed."
In talking with Seriani, he admitted he had a slow start. "Yeah, I started a little slow but I got better after a talk from coach (Miller)." The Paonia ace is more than familiar with some of Delta's players. "I know Delta has good hitters because I played ball with some of their players. I've seen Damon Jensen hit and know they are tough."
Delta head coach Steve Reiher had praise for the Eagles following the game. "These kids have played against each other since they were nine and ten years old. It's a good rivalry. The kids talk to each other and play together in the summer. Paonia is a good club. There's a reason why they are No. 1. Seriani is probably the best pitcher we'll see all year. And, hey, we pitched well today, except for that one pitch (Seriani hit out of the park). We had some great at bats with some loud outs."
Delta 7, Erie 6
Delta gave up one run in the top of the second inning but earned one of its own to tie the game at 1-1 heading to the third frame.
Erie caught fire and sent a parade of batters to the plate for a four-run inning and a 5-1 lead. The Panthers did not score the next three innings and trailed 5-1 until the bottom of the sixth where they plated one run to make it 5-2 in favor of the Tigers.
Erie opened the top of the seventh with a run pushing the score to 6-2 with the Panthers coming to bat. Delta found its bats in the bottom of the seventh and scored five times to claim a 7-6 non-conference win.
Josh Reeder was 1-4 at the plate and knocked in three runs for the Panthers. Keller went 1-4 as well and had two RBIs. Jensen was 2-3 with the bat.
Justin Violett was 1.000 in the fielding department and is listed atop Class 3A fielders after last week's play.
Reiher started on the hill for Delta and gave way to Jaspar Carmichael, who picked up the win with four innings pitched on two hits and a run allowed. Both pitchers had three strikeouts in the game.
Delta 5, Montrose 2
Saturday's game against the Indians in Montrose was a low-scoring affair. Jaspar Carmichael and Brown had two hits apiece for the Panthers while Reeder, Rowen Carmichael and Rodriguez had hits for RBIs.
Jared Miller and Dustin Boone had two hits each for Montrose and Bobby Birawer's double produced two RBIs.
Delta got on the board first in the second inning with three runs. Montrose pulled to within one on a two-run fourth to keep the game close.
The Panthers picked up two insurance runs in the top of the sixth and then held on for the 5-2 win.
Drake Horn went the distance with seven hits, two runs and six strikeouts to earn the win.
Delta hosts the 4A Roosevelt Roughriders this Wednesday, with doubleheader action with game one set to begin at 1 p.m. The Panthers are headed to New Castle to face Coal Ridge's Titans on Saturday beginning at 11 a.m.