An East region 15-2 win over Alchesay coupled with a 12-8 victory over Class 2A Heber Mogollon improved the state second-ranked Longhorn baseball team record to an impressive 15-4 (4-0 in the East).
In the April 9 victory over the homestanding Mogollon Mustangs, the Horns were facing a team that Longhorn coach Teddy Pettet says is one of the best teams in the north region.
"They have had a great season so far; they look like state contenders," he said. "Mogollon faithful believe that this is the year they legitimately have a chance to win it all in 2A baseball."
For Payson starting pitcher Jeremy Heairet, the game turned into a nostalgic showdown.
"Jeremy played Little League baseball in the Heber area during his younger days," Pettet said. "He started on the mound against many of the young men he played with in his Little League days."
Heairet, who's parents live in Young, moved to Payson years ago to play baseball for the Longhorns.
"He wanted to pitch against competition that might enable him to achieve his goal of pitching in a college program some day," Pettet said.
During his five-inning stint on the hill, Heairet's assortment of offerings continually frustrated his former teammates.
"He pitched magnificently," Pettet said.
After allowing only four hits, striking out four and not issuing a walk, Heairet gave way to junior Ricky Young who pitched the final two innings.
Heairet's win improved his credentials to 5-1.
The coach also praised the offensive contributions of Travis Sanders, Ashton Shewey, Nate Perna and Heairet.
"They all had big days at the plate," he said.
Sanders finished a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate and Perna was 2-for-5 with four RBIs. His hits were a double and home run.
Shewey contributed three singles and Heairet had two. Taylor Walden swatted a solo home run in the fourth inning.
In the April 8 win over Alchesay, the Longhorns scored 10 runs in the bottom of the first inning.
The big hit of the inning was Shewey's grand slam home run. The game was eventually shorted to 4 1/2 frames on the 10-run mercy rule.
Senior Jon Beeson was credited with the win after hurling 3 2/3 innings of no-hit baseball. Beeson struck our four and didn't issue a walk. David Curtiss and Ashton Shewey pitched in relief.
In the Longhorns 11-hit attack, Walden contributed a single, two doubles and a triple in four appearances at the plate.
Waylon Pettet, Mike Hansen, Sanders, Perna, Beeson and Young all had one hit each.
The Longhorns returned to East action yesterday (Thursday) in Snowflake. (Results not available at press time).
Next up for Payson is an April 22 East region clash in Round Valley. Game time is 4 p.m.
With the Longhorns looking more like a state playoff team, fans are planning to attend the tournament which will begin May 9 at Peoria Sports Complex. Second round games will be contested May 10.
The final two rounds are slated for May 16 and 17.