WEST GLENWOOD SPRINGS (4/17/18) – Amid swirling and driving snowflakes, the Glenwood Springs’ bats heated up for a seven-run fifth inning, invoking the mercy rule to close out a 12-2, non-league win over Montezuma-Cortez Tuesday.
A 2-run double by Liam McMahon in his first varsity at bat keyed the outburst that made a complete-game winner of Cole Houston in his first start for the Demons (7-2, 5-0 Western Slope League), who have won six in a row.
Houston was backed by several sterling plays, beginning with a strike to second base thrown by back-up catcher Kai Kanzer to nail leadoff hitter Isiah Pena after he walked to open the first. The Demons used three Panther errors, a bunt single by Chano Gonzalez, two hit batsmen, and Davis Deaton’s double to grab a 3-0 lead in the home half.
The sophomore Houston, who’d made only two, one-inning relief appearances this season, fanned two in the second, and after another walk, was helped by secondbaseman Tyler Boyd’s fine play up the middle.
In the third, Cortez (2-8, 1-5 in the 3A Intermountain League) got its first hit and also got on the scoreboard. A passed ball and error, followed by Pena’s double, made it 3-1 Demons. Cole Herman hit a hot shot to shortstop Gonzalez, who fired to first for the second out, and Dylan Lee’s perfect throw across the diamond cut down Pena at third to end the inning.
Gonzalez singled to lead off the Demon third, stole second, and after a ground out moved him to third, scored on a wild pitch by Panther pitcher Jason Engel. Two walks, a single, and another passed ball pulled Cortez within 4-2 in the fourth, but a bigger rally was prevented by a crisp 4-6-3 doubleplay turned in by Boyd and Gonzalez.
The Demons answered on a single and stolen base by Boyd, followed by a shot down the third base line for an RBI double from Gonzalez, making the score 5-2. By then the wind was snapping players’ jerseys and snow was blowing diagonally across the field as Houston put up a zero in the top of the fifth.
His teammates batted around in the final inning. After McMahon’s one-out double over the centerfielder’s head scored Houston and Deaton, Engle walked Boyd to load the bases and was replaced by shortstop Cole Herrman. Lee worked a 3-2 walk, forcing in a run and Gonzalez cracked a double to left, driving in two for a 10-2 lead. Jake Brown skipped a single past the thirdbaseman for another run, and Sam Fitzwilliams’ shot into center ended the game.
Gonzalez was 4-for-4, scoring and knocking in 3 runs. Deaton was 2-for-2, and leadoff man Boyd tallied three times, and now leads the team with 17 runs scored, matching his season total from last year.
The Demons wanted to save their stalwart pitching combo of Gonzalez and Deaton for the first-place showdown at undefeated Palisade (8-3, 5-0) on Saturday, but may have discovered another mound weapon in the sophomore Houston, who allowed just 3 hits, striking out 6 on 80 pitches, while recording the fourth Demon complete game in the last five.