The Payson Major League (11-12-years) Little League All-Stars are on the verge of advancing to the District One championships.
All it will take for the local stars to advance is a victory over Flagstaff Continental at 5 p.m. today (Tuesday) on the Flagstaff Mount Elden field.
Payson and Continental enter the shoot-out with identical 2-0 records in Area One tournament play that began July 5.
The winner of today's gold-medal game will stake claim to the Area title and advance to the District tournament as a No. 1 seed.
If Payson were to lose to Continental, the Rim country team would have a second opportunity to advance to the championships at 8 p.m. tomorrow (Wednesday) also at Mount Elden. That game would be for second-place honors in the Area tournament.
In Little League format, first- and second-place teams from Area tournaments qualify for District play. The District One tournament begins next week at Mount Elden.
Payson opened pursuit of an Area title and a berth into the District fray with a 7-2 victory over Flagstaff Coconino.
The opening round game, played Friday, was highlighted by the pitching of B.J. Hill, who in six full innings gave up six hits and struck out 10, Payson coach Charlie England said.
The win propelled Payson into a second-round game Saturday against the Winslow all-stars.
This time out, it was the pitching of Ridge Halenar that led Payson to a 9-1 triumph. In going six full innings on the mound, Halenar gave up six hits.
The key to the victory, England said, was a solid offensive showing that forced Winslow to call upon three pitchers to try to slow the Payson onslaught.
Oliver Lewinson led the Rim country charge with three RBIs and two runs scored.
During the course of the regular season, Lewinson played on the Cardinals team, coached by England, that finished 10-2 and won the Payson championship.
Halenar starred for the Giants; Hill was a member of the Rangers.
More Little League action
The Payson Junior (13-14-years) Little League All-Stars received a setback of sorts when Area One tournament games slated to begin July 5 at Flagstaff Continental were postponed until yesterday (Monday).
With the rescheduling, the Payson team, coached by Don Engler, opened play at 8 p.m. yesterday against Winslow. Behind the pitching of Matt Behrens, Payson run-ruled Winslow 11-1.
Due to the postponement of the tournament, the format was changed from a winners/losers bracket showdown to a round robin. Now, all six teams in the tournament will play one another during the course of the week. The teams with the two best records will advance to the District One tournament July 13 in Flagstaff.
Payson's schedule includes a 5 p.m. game today (Tuesday) against Flagstaff and a 1 p.m. game July 10 against Continental Two.
Payson's version of the round robin wraps up with a 1 p.m. game July 11 against Continental One and a clash at 8 p.m. July 12 against Page.
In 9-10-year-old Little League all-star tournament play being contested on the Payson High School softball field, the Rim country Little League squad coached by John Medlin debuted Friday morning in a 6-5 loss to Continental.
The following day, Payson recovered to whip Page 9-8.
Last evening, Payson whipped Flagstaff 5-1 to advance in the losers bracket.
The winners bracket championship game, pitting Winslow against Continental, was played last evening at 8 p.m.
Area One's other representative to the District tournament will be decided at 8 p.m. July 10 when the losers bracket finale is played.