Chris Jaworsky hadn’t pitched an inning all season going into Thursday’s rivalry game.
The 5-11 junior helped pitch the Durango High School Demons (8-6, 3-4 Southwestern League) to a 14-8 victory against Montezuma-Cortez (5-10-1, 0-7 SWL). It was the third consecutive win for the streaking Demons, and the first earned by Jaworsky.
“I had a little bit of nerves at the beginning, but once I got to throwing strikes I felt pretty good and settled down,” said Jaworsky, son of Chris and Kellie Jaworsky.
Jaworsky was aided by the strong hitting of the Demons (8-6, 3-4 Southwestern League). DHS pounded out 14 hits, including three triples and a double.
DHS senior Isiah Mayberry was 4-for-4 with a double, six runs batted in, three runs scored and a sacrifice fly.
“I felt good at the plate. They were throwing me some good pitches, and I was able to get on base,” said Mayberry, son of George and Tonya Mayberry. “I was able to get on base, and that’s all that really counts.”
Another DHS senior, Tyler Worley, was 2-for-3 with a triple, two RBIs and a walk.
Hayden Sill, a junior, was 1-for-2 with a triple and three RBIs, one run scored and a sacrifice fly.
DHS senior Jeremy Szura was 2-for-4 with a triple, double, an RBI, three runs scored and a hit-by-pitch.
Brothers Blake and Casey Dunlap also had solid days at the plate: Blake was 1-for-2 with an RBI, three runs scored, two walks and a hit-by pitch; Casey was 1-for-3 with two runs scored, a stolen base, a walk and a hit-by-pitch.
Jaworsky pitched 5 1/3 innings in relief of starter Ben Wiley. Jaworsky gave up just three hits, while hitting two batters with pitches. He didn’t record a strikeout, but he pitched to contact and induced seven easy fly-ball outs.
“That’s the key to pitching. Throw strikes, and let your defense do the work,” Jaworsky said. “Our defense is one of the best in the league. They work so hard. Just make them put the ball in play and trust the guys.”
Jaworsky saw three runs cross the plate on his watch, two of which were earned.
DHS head coach Rob Coddington said he had no hesitation to hand the ball to Jaworsky, even though he hadn’t done so yet this season.
“He has been coming on for us with his stick and really had a good approach every day in practice the last couple of weeks,” Coddington said. “He’s been helping us in some of the big wins we’ve had. We got in a situation where we felt good about using him, and he finished out the game and did a great job.”
Wiley pitched 2 2/3 innings and gave up two hits. He walked five, hit two batters with pitches and recorded two strikeouts. Five of the batters he faced went on to score, but Wiley was charged with only two runs.
Montezuma-Cortez did most of its damage in the third inning when the Panthers scored four runs on zero hits, five walks or hit batters and one DHS error.
The Panthers never went away and wouldn’t allow the Demons to reach the 10-run rule margin.
“We expected that our of Cortez. Coach (Matthew) Betts is a good coach, and they never lay down,” Coddington said.
After the game, nine DHS seniors were honored by the team along with their families and friends. Mayberry, who has been a three-sport athlete at DHS for four years, was proud to take his trot around the bases and recognize the fans who have supported the Demons.
“I love the fans here. It’s been good playing with this group of kids, and hopefully we can keep making a run to keep the season going,” Mayberry said.
Coddington credited the senior group for helping the team turn the season around after a 1-4 start to the league schedule.
“They are a really good group of kids. They’ve all been really loyal and worked really hard,” Coddington said. “The last couple of weeks, the seniors and juniors have really picked it up, and even the sophomores that hang around with us. I am proud of all of them.”
DHS again will play the Panthers at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in Cortez.
“Getting three wins in a row feels pretty good right now,” Jaworsky said. “We know Cortez will bring it to us again Saturday; we just need to stay in our game, and we will definitely do our job.”