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Panthers demolish Pioneers

by David Tesitor
WALSENBURG — It was a long bus ride home for the Cripple Creek-Victor baseball nine after the fifteenth ranked John Mall Panthers crushed the Pioneers on Saturday in doubleheader action.
The Cats won the first game 10-0 and the second 17-1 after only three innings when the Pioneers said no mas and forfeited the game.
The Panthers played some of their best ball of the season as both the pitching and the defense were at the top of their game. On the mound for John Mall in the first game was Michael Maldonado, who was confident as he struck out six batters, earning the shutout. He nearly pitched a no-hitter, giving up only a single hit. The Panther fielding made the plays in this error-free game.
Offensively, the Panthers had eleven hits. Jacob Wiggins led off the hitting in the first with a single. He also hit a single in the second inning. Zach Harriman, Justin Eccher and Maldonado also had hits in the second that contributed to the Panthers’ five-run inning. John Paul Vigil had a single, a double, and a triple in the game John Burch had two hits. MichaelRyan Griego had a triple.
The officials called the game in the fifth because of the mercy rule.
As the second game began, the Panthers continued to show no mercy, exploding for 11 first-inning runs as the Panthers batted the order. John Mall’s scoring frenzy began. The Panthers scored two runs off an errant pitch, hit the ball into the gaps, and were aggressive running the bases, turning singles into doubles and triples.
The Pioneers could not make any plays in the outfield giving the Panthers a distinct advantage. Before the inning was over, the Panthers had twelve hits. One highlight of the game came in the bottom of the third when Amy Vallejos, in her second appearance at the plate, hit a RBI single to make the score 13-1. Defensively, the Panthers continued their momentum shutting down the Pioneer bats. After giving up a run in the first, pitcher Evan Crocket struck out seven batters in the first three innings. He allowed only one hit.
When the Panthers scored more runs in the third, the Pioneer coach informed the Umpire, because of their limited bench and pitchers, that they were through and forfeited the remainder of the game, giving the Panthers the win.
The victories gave the Panthers their third consecutive victory with an overall season record of 9-5. They hold a one-half game lead over Custer County in the West Central League.
John Mall will travel to Swink today for a single game and to Custer this Saturday for a double-header. Currently Swink is the number-eight ranked team in the state with a 12-4 record. Custer County is ranked 17th, and the game could have strong playoff ramifications for both teams.
Victories this weekend will almost certainly give the Panthers a playoff appearance. The first round of district action begins Tuesday May 1, and if the Panthers continue at this level of play and their pitching staff remains strong, the Cats could see some post season action.