Jerry McBride/Durango Herald
Now all that’s left is the waiting.
The Durango High School baseball team capped its regular season with a resounding 11-1, five-inning victory over rival Montezuma-Cortez on Thursday, and now the Demons will wait until Wednesday’s seeding meeting to find out if they’ll host a Class 4A regional for the second consecutive season.
The Demons also are waiting to find out tiebreaker scenarios to see who wins the Southwestern League title. They’ll finish at least tied for first, and wins by Grand Junction and Montrose created a three-way tie which DHS head coach Rob Coddington said he thinks Durango will win but couldn’t confirm with 100-percent certainty. A decision likely won’t be reached until today.
Coddington said he thinks his team has done enough to play next weekend at home. And, unlike last year’s early exit, he’s hoping for better results.
“The only thing we can do right now is look forward to the playoffs and have a better showing this year and make it through the first weekend and make it to the final eight,” Coddington said.
“I think it would be pretty fair if we were given the host.”
Durango (12-7, 7-3 Southwestern League) went down 1-0 in the top of the first ining when Tallon Ralstin’s hopper squeaked its way through the infield, scoring Gerardo Martinez. That was all the Panthers (7-12, 0-10 SWL) would muster off of DHS starter Joe Brennan (6-2), who threw five innings and allowed just four hits while striking out six.
“Joe likes to pitch. A lot of people would be, in a situation like this, wanting to take a rest and rest their arm,” Coddington said. “But Joe Brennan’s always been the kind of guy who wants the ball, and, you know, we’re excited to get him in a playoff game this year and watch him compete for us.”
The Demons wouldn’t trail long. With Connor Dugan aboard after a double, senior Marcus Sansoni drilled the first pitch he saw on Senior Day over the fence in left-center for a two-run homer. Sansoni said he was sitting on a fastball and got exactly what he was looking for – both a home run and a chance to equal big brother and assistant coach Logan Sansoni.
“My brother hit a home run his last at-bat (at home), so I was trying to do the same thing to complete the trilogy,” said Sansoni, son of Melissa and Ron Sansoni and brother of Erika Sansoni, who walked off the high school volleyball court with a state championship her senior year (1997).
DHS added two more in the second on Clay Haidaris’ RBI single and Easton Garcia’s sacrifice fly. The floodgates finally came open in the third when consecutive singles by Mark Kobrin and Sansoni led to Danny Rowley’s RBI single and George Mayberry’s two-RBI double. Mayberry scored on a wild pitch to cap a four-run frame.
Kobrin’s two-run double and Rowley’s RBI single drove in Durango’s final three runs in a game Rowley said was important for building momentum toward the postseason, wherever the destination.
“You get that momentum going, hopefully carry it into next weekend. ... Hopefully it works out,” said Rowley, son of Darren and Kari Rowley.
Sansoni, who entered the day trailing Fruita Monument’s Evan McDermott by one for the league RBI lead, was 2-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Rowley was 2-for-3 with two RBIs, and Dugan doubled twice.
The tradition of one final lap around the bases was celebrated by nine seniors on Senior Day: Brennan, Garcia, Haidaris, Joe Keresey, Kobrin, Mayberry, Rowley, Sansoni and Christian Vigil. One more milestone on a journey that’s not quite over yet.