If there's one thing the Bayfield baseball team doesn't want to hear, it's that other 3A Intermountain League teams are gaining ground on them, whether in the standings, or just in talent.
Prior to their April 3 doubleheader at Pagosa Springs was that the Pirates, who'd started 2018 off with four straight wins and five in their first six outings, had something in store for them. BHS promptly hushed that chat, winning both games and scoring almost 30 runs while allowing just three.
Visiting Wolverine Field four days later, Montezuma-Cortez was also said to be dangerous.
"Yeah, we heard those rumors," said senior Michael Gettman. "We just had to come out, play our ball."
"All we know is...we set a goal for ourselves to 10-run every team," junior Max McGhehey stated. "That's what we want to do for all of our league games."
In that regard, the Panthers could certainly claim a moral victory after recovering from a rapid 10-0 mercy-rule loss in Game 1 to scratch out two runs-against Bayfield's eight-and go the seven-inning distance in Game 2.
"Hayden had a little rough start," said interim head coach Jake Forsythe, alluding to junior Hayden Farmer's transition from Game 1 third baseman to Game 2 pitcher, in which M-CHS managed to approach as close as 3-2 through three uneasy innings, "but after that he settled in."
"Andrew pitched good from the get-go," he continued, addressing junior Andrew Morgan's one-hit, five-inning shutout in the opener. "That's what we need; pitchers have to pitch strikes with solid defense behind them."
Senior shortstop Cutter Matthews, who took the loss opposing Morgan in Game 1, went 3-for-3 and scored both Panther runs in Game 2 to lead Montezuma-Cortez (2-5, 1-3 IML) offensively. Junior leftfielder Isiah Pena denied Morgan a perfect game with a fifth-inning double down the right-field line.
Other than those figures, highlights were few as M-CHS managed just seven total hits all day. Helped defensively by a Gettman catch of a long Matthews fly to deep left-center, as well as a grab in right-center by Kaleb Heck off senior Jasen Engel's bat, Morgan finished his scoreless gem with zero walks and six strikeouts.
"I felt good. Like, really good," he said. "We needed just to start off, as we did in Pagosa."
Farmer, meanwhile, overpowered the visitors during the twinbill's last four innings and recorded nine of his 13 Ks. Having only walked Andrew Medina in the top of the fourth, he finished the day fanning pinch-hitter Carson Yoder and catcher Travis Beeson, leaving M-CHS' 8- and 9-hole hitters (four, in all) a combined 0-for-6 with six strikeouts.
Meanwhile, Gettman brought out the boom-stick not once, but twice to all but clinch the two wins, and did so amidst similar circumstances in each.
With the Wolverines (7-4, 4-0) already cruising, 6-0, going into the bottom of the fourth in Game 1, he came up with two outs but McGhehey on first and proceeded to whack a Matthews delivery over the left-field fence.
And after McGhehey doubled with two away in the bottom of the fourth in Game 2, Gettman powered an Engel offering even farther over the chain-link barrier-increasing BHS' advantage at the time to 6-2.
"I had plenty on it," he laughed. "You know, the pitcher was throwing a lot of first-pitch strikes, so our coaches told us we've got to look for that and go for it! And that's what we did."
Gettman finished both games a combined 3-for-6, including a triple, with four runs scored and as many batted in. McGhehey went 3-7 overall, scoring three times and plating one, and shortstop Hub Brandon ended up an outstanding 5-5 with a double, triple and one hit-by-pitch. He would score four times and knock in two.
Farmer finished 4-for-6 with two runs and two RBI, while catcher Alec Demko went 2-6 and also reached on an error, scored twice and drove home one.
"It's contagious," Forsythe said. "Once we get the bats going, everybody feeds off of that energy and that's what we need. We need the top of the lineup to do well, and everybody'll follow."
"I thought that was the two best games of our season so far, as far as efficiency with our pitchers and getting all the sticks going," he added, "to build some momentum."
After a week off from competition, BHS will get back to work hosting Centauri (5-6, 1-3) on April 14 for a doubleheader slated to begin at 11 a.m.
"We need to come out, focus, work as a team, and be supportive," McGhehey said. "Really, that's it."