Conventional baseball wisdom dictates if you out-hit an opponent by a substantial margin, you'll probably walk away with a victory. That wasn't the scenario Tuesday in Show Low, however, when the Longhorns dropped a 16-6 game to the homestanding Cougars.
The irony in the loss is that the Longhorns who've suffered from a lack of offensive production most of the year out-slugged the state fourth-ranked cats 14-10.
"We hit the heck out of the ball," coach Teddy Pettet said.
But, the rare Payson slug-fest couldn't make up for poor pitching and several defensive and offensive miscues.
"We fell behind 9-1 in the first, then made lots of mental mistakes. We got into a hole we couldn't get out of," Pettet said.
The Cougars' nine-run opening inning barrage came courtesy of control problems suffered by Payson's senior starter Tyler Pettet.
Walking four and hitting two batters, Pettet who entered the game with a 4-0 record could never find the hurling groove he's shown in early season.
Seeing his ace didn't have his usual stuff, the coach called upon O.J. Siebert for relief help. Siebert hurled effectively, giving up one earned run in 3 1/3 innings.
"He pitched really well," the coach said.
Struggling to make up for the huge first inning deficit, Horn bats pounded Show Low pitching. Senior Scotty Garduno, a veteran four-year letter winner, led the hit parade with two doubles in four appearances at the plate. Steve Williamson finished three-for-four and Waylon Pettet and Ky Bradley were two-for-four. Cory McRae contributed a home run.
But the best offensive show of the season wasn't enough to keep the Horns in contention for a full seven innings. At the end of six, umpires signaled the end of the clash on the 10-run mercy rule.
Next up for the struggling Horns is an 11 a.m. showdown tomorrow (Saturday) against Round Valley. Coach Pettet said the game is crucial to his team, making a top four East region finish and a berth in the state tournament.
"If we can't get by them, we might not make it," Pettet said.
The two teams met March 27 in Eagar and played to a 6-6 tie. Due to darkness and windy, cold conditions, the game was called off at the end of six innings.
East region and school officials have not yet decided when or where to play off the tie. Pettet said he would like to see the play off take place tomorrow in Payson rather than at the end of the season at a neutral site.