Payson High baseball coach Teddy Pettet celebrated his 200th victory Tuesday, April 23, when his team defeated Blue Ridge, 9-4. The win was sweet in more ways than one: Pettet will now have a chance to share the 3A East Region title with Show Low.
Pettet's team has not been in the running for a title since 1995, when it shared the title with Blue Ridge.
Like the PHS softball team, the Longhorn baseball team will be fighting for a regional title on Friday when it travels to Show Low for the final regular season game.
If the Horns wins, they will be tied with Show Low and will be co-champions. Pettet and the Show Low coach will then flip a coin to see who enters the state playoffs as the No. 1 or No. 2 seed.
If Payson loses the game, or the toss, they will take second seed and see first round action against the No. 3 team from the West most likely River Valley.
A first-place draw would see Payson play the No. 4 team from the West either Higley or Camp Verde.
The start time will remain the same with a first or second seed. Payson will take the field for 3A state championship play at noon Friday, May 3 at the Peoria Sports complex.
The road to the final game of the regular season has been hard-fought for Pettet's team. In addition to beating Blue Ridge Tuesday, the Horns had resounding wins over Round Valley, 6-0, April 16; Globe, 7-1, April 17 and Joseph City, 10-3, April 19.
vs. Roundup Valley
The Round Valley victory assured the Horns of a spot in the 2002 state playoffs.
Chad McRae's timely pitching performance highlighted the win, Pettet said.
"During his six innings on the hill, he gave up only one hit while striking out 13 and walking three," the coach said.
Round Valley had a couple of scoring opportunities in the first, second and sixth innings, but could not come up with a needed hit to send a runner home.
Pettet brought in his junior pitcher, Jon Beeson, to close the game in the seventh.
Waylon Pettet set the pace offensively, hitting two home runs for three runs batted in.
Ky Bradley had a run, scoring on a double in the fifth followed by a Sean Pickle sacrifice fly.
Pickle also tripled in the fourth and then scored on a subsequent wild pitch.
Vengeance was sweet for the Horns when they took on Globe the following day. Payson lost to the Globe Tigers earlier in the season.
Junior, Jeremy Heairet-Zeising threw a complete game against the 3A South third-ranked Tigers, allowing only five hits and one run. The win was Heairet-Zeising's third of the season; he has no losses.
Payson's offense pushed runs across the plate in the fourth, fifth and seventh innings.
McRae led off the fourth inning with a walk and moved to second when Levi Armstrong was hit by a pitch. McRae scored on a wild pitch, followed by Armstrong who had the second run of the inning following a base hit by Waylon Pettet.
Bradley singled in the fifth and was joined on the bases by Rob Ochoa who was hit by a pitch. With two outs, both runners moved up a base following an errant pick-off attempt by Globe's hurler.
Bradley scored when he faked a steal for home and forced the Globe pitcher to balk. Ochoa scored on a throwing error off Mike Hansen's ground ball.
Payson clinched the win in the sixth inning off a Bradley three-run homer over the right field fence.
vs. Joseph City
Friday, April 19, the Horns garnered their 20th win of the season beating 2A Joseph City.
Pettet said the win was the first ever 20-win season before postseason play in PHS baseball history.
"The best record ever recorded by a Longhorn team was the 1999 State Champion squad that had a record of 23-9," Pettet said.
Five of that team's wins came after the conclusion of the regular season when the Horns won a playoff game and then swept through the state tournament to give Payson its first state baseball championship.
Senior Matt Woolwine received credit for the win over Joseph City. Woolwine pitched five complete innings and allowed only three hits. Sophomore Ashton Shewey was credited with the save when he pitched scoreless sixth and seventh innings.
Ochoa led the scoring attack with a home run, a double and three RBIs.
Junior Travis Sanders also contributed to the offensive effort with two doubles and two RBIs.
Junior Ty Brunson's pinch-hit RBI single in the fifth inning was a crucial blow to the Wildcats, Pettet said.
vs. Blue Ridge
The 21st win of the season was captured by the Horns on April 23 when they defeated Blue Ridge, 9-4.
Heairet-Zeising pitched seven innings, allowing four runs off nine hits while striking out six.
Payson was lifeless offensively until the fourth inning. Sanders, Woolwine, Darin Grover, Pettet, Nate Perna and Bradley had base hit singles combined with a double by Shewey to drive in six runs.
With the score 6-4 in the final seventh frame, the Horns added three additional runs when, with two outs, Shewey drew a walk followed by a double bagger to left center field by Ty Brunson and singles by Pettet and Perna.
Payson sports a 21-5-1 overall record and are 6-1 in the region as they enter today's Show Low game at 4 p.m.