Fueled by the yeoman-like pitching efforts of a junior hurler who had not won a game this season, the Payson Longhorns chalked up one of their most impressive wins of the season.
Right-hander Ky Bradley after getting the starting pitching nod just before game time from coach Teddy Pettet responded with a complete game performance that lifted the Horns to a 6-4 win over the league leading Round Valley Elks.
With the upset Saturday on the PHS diamond, the state 10th-ranked Horns improved their East record to 4-3-1 and remain in the hunt for a regional title.
Round Valley, which entered the contest once beaten in the East, fell to 5-2-1. The bugle boys, however, continue to cling to first place amidst a regional dogfight in which every team has at least two losses and most have three.
Predicting an eventual East champion, Pettet said, is almost an impossibility because every team in the league is so evenly matched.
The Horns could have fallen from title contention with a loss to RV had it not been for the hurling prowess of Bradley, who in seven innings scattered seven hits.
Relying mostly on his fastball and at times a curve and change-up, Bradley kept the Elks from chalking up the big inning the squad needed for a win.
"I tried to keep (the fastball) out, away from them (the hitters). That worked best," Bradley said.
With the victory, Bradley now sports a 1-3 record. Round Valley's Kevin Payne absorbed the loss despite giving up only three hits.
One of those hits he surrendered, however, proved to be the game breaker.
In the bottom of the fifth, facing at a 2-2 count, Rob Ochoa lifted a grand slam 350-foot home run over the right center field fence that produced most of the "O" the Horns needed.
The circuit blast erased a 2-1 Round Valley cushion and propelled the Horns into the top of the seventh and final frame with a 6-2 lead.
In one last-gasp game winning attempt, the Elks rallied for two runs but eventually succumbed to Bradley's offerings and a solid defense that committed just two errors.
During the crucial last inning, Pettet considered replacing Bradley with sophomore reliever Waylon Pettet but quickly scrapped the notion.
"Waylon sometimes gets wild and Ky was throwing well, so I stayed with him," he said.
Prior to Saturday's 11 a.m. game time, Pettet said he hoped that afternoon to conduct a playoff of an earlier season 6-6 tie against Round Valley.
The original game, played March 27 in Eager, was not sent into extra innings due to darkness and cold, windy weather conditions.
So, it went into the record books as an unusual deadknot.
The idea of a playoff game Saturday, however, was nixed by the RV coaching staff.
As it stands now, the contest will remain a tie unless the outcome of it has a bearing on the final regular season standings, Pettet said. If that occurs, the playoff would take place on an off day before the state tournament begins May 4.