Diamond Crew Off To Best Start In Years

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Life on the road has been good to the Longhorn baseball team.

After finishing 6-0 at the Thunderbird Invitational Feb. 27 through March 2 in Mohave Valley, the Horns returned to the tournament trail March 6 through 9 at the Miami Vandal Invitational.

There, the Horns compiled a 3-1-1 mark to improve their season's credentials to an impressive 9-1-1.

"It's the best start we've had since I've been around," coach Teddy Pettet said.

Although the Horns have flourished on the road, the players are looking forward to their home debut slated for 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 19 against East Region rival Round Valley, Pettet said.

While the tournaments allowed the coach to test his players under fire and sort out his starting nine, it will be the results of upcoming region games that will determine if the Horns advance to the postseason playoffs.

This season, Pettet anticipates East tough guys Snowflake, Show Low and Blue Ridge will provide the Horns their greatest competition.

Battling in the upcoming regular season, the Horns probably won't again be involved in the baseball oddity they experienced in the Miami tournament a tie game.

The 4-4 deadlock against the host Vandals was not extended into extra innings because tournament rules put a two-hour time limit on games.

After committing eight errors in the game, the Longhorns were lucky to come away with a tie, Pettet said. Only stellar pitching by Chad McRae and solid hitting from Ky Bradley and Ashton Shewey kept Payson from suffering the agony of defeat.

McRae hurled six full innings, allowed three hits, struck out nine and walked one. Only one of Miami's runs was earned.

Bradley finished two-for-four at the plate with two RBIs. Shewey swatted a solo home run.

In a tournament opening 8-6 win over the Coolidge Bears, Bradley earned the starting nod and hurled five innings before giving way to relief help from Jon Beeson.

Taking the hill with the bases loaded and no outs, Beeson was able to pitch his way out of trouble and preserve the Horns' 7-5 lead.

Beeson eventually was credited with the save and Bradley got the win.

At the plate, Rob Ochoa was two-for-three with three RBIs. Nate Perna had two hits in four trips to the plate.

Later in the opening day, the Horns suffered their first loss of the season, 10-3, to Globe.

"We were 7-0 I guess it was about time for us to lose," Pettet said.

Senior right-hander Matt Woolwine was tagged with the loss after giving up five runs in 2 2/3 innings.

Reliever Levi Armstrong hurled 1 2/3 innings and also allowed five runs.

About the only offense the Horns could muster came from Ochoa, who was two-for-two with one RBI and a double.

Following the loss, the Horns rebounded to beat Superior 10-3 and San Manuel 9-2.

In the win over Superior, junior Waylon Pettet started his first game of the season and picked up the "W." Derrin Grover relieved Waylon in the top of the fifth.

Sean Pickle's perfect three-for-three effort at the plate, which included a home run and three RBIs, was his best outing of the young season.

Shewey contributed two doubles and three RBIs.

Against San Manuel, Bradley started on the hill, but gave way to Woolwine in the top of the third. Woolwine picked up the win to improve his record to 2-1.

Bradley led the Horn hit parade with two hits, one home run and three RBIs.

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