Horns Fall To Sixth Place In Loss To Fountain Hills


With practices forced inside Monday morning because of the wet, snowy conditions and the weatherman predicting even more moisture, the Payson High School baseball team might not return to play until the end of the week.

The Horns were scheduled to host Central rival Coolidge today, Tuesday, on the PHS diamond. At press time, the status of that game was uncertain. It could be moved to Coolidge if facilities there are available or rescheduled for another date, school officials said.

Whatever the scenario, the Horns (10-5) opened the week with a sixth-place ranking in the Class 3A state polls.

After climbing as high as fourth, the Horns dropped two notches following a 5-3 loss to Fountain Hills on March 26.

Currently, unbeaten Cave Creek Cactus Shadows (10-0) is the state's top-ranked team. Benson (10-1) is second and Chino Valley (6-4) -- a team Payson edged out by a single run earlier this year -- is third.

With Cave Creek sitting in the number-one seat, Payson in sixth and Fountain Hills (6-4) ranked ninth, the Central Division places three teams in the top 10.

In addition to lofty rankings in the polls, Central was shown even more proof it was the premier division in the state when Payson pounded West Division member, Sedona, 13-2 March 31 in Sedona. The game was simply no contest for the heralded Longhorns who jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first, then pushed it to 7-1 in the fourth.

In the sixth inning, the Horns ended all suspense, tallying six more to end the game on the 10-run rule.

The Horns were able to pick up the victory without the services of its two pitching aces -- Bryan Zumbro and Josh McRae.

Jason Carroll got the starting nod and earned the win after going five full innings on the hill. In facing 20 batters, he gave up one run, four hits and walked three. He struck out four.

Marc Bennett, normally an all-division catcher, mopped up in the sixth and final inning.

In the win, the Horn bats returned to full form after a less than desirable and untimely seven-hit showing against Fountain Hills.

The 12-hit attack vs. Sedona produced three doubles.

Hunter Walden, still recovering from knee surgery, led the Horn attack with two singles and a double. Jeremy Reynolds and Scotty Garduno were both 2-for-4.

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