A break-even (3-3) showing in early season play has Longhorn baseball coach Teddy Pettet searching for a healthy dose of instant offense.
"We are just not a good hitting ball club," he said. "We might have to find a way to manufacture runs."
That means Longhorn fans can expect to see bunts, squeeze plays, base stealing and hit and runs become a big part of the Longhorns offense.
Pettet's assessment of the team's offensive woes was sparked by the team's 2-3 showing in the Thunderbird Invitational Tournament March 7 and 8 in Mohave and Bullhead City. Payson produced only 17 runs and was shut out in a 5-0 tournament loss to Chino Valley.
The Longhorns opened the invitational with a 2-1 victory over Flagstaff that was fueled by the hurling of winning pitcher Ashton Shewey. Waylon Pettet's two-out single in the bottom of the fifth tied the game. A base hit by Shewey and a Flagstaff error scored the winning run.
After being held scoreless in the second round by Chino Valley, the Longhorns rebounded to beat the Winslow Bulldogs 6-1.
Jeremy Heariet picked up the win throwing a three-hitter in which he struck out six and didn't give up a walk.
Pettet was two-for-three at the plate with a triple and three RBIs.
After muzzling the Dogs, Payson fell on hard times losing back-to-back games to Calexico, Calif., 10-5, and Palo Verde, Calif., 5-4.
Probably the most disheartening of the losses was to Palo Verde.
With Payson holding a 4-1 lead in the final inning, coach Pettet brought in Shewey to relieve starter Ricky Young.
Shewey's bases-loaded, one-out first pitch was given a grand slam, over-the-fence ride that earned PV the win and the Payson hurler the defeat.
"One pitch, one loss," coach Pettet said. Waylon Pettet led the Longhorn attack with two hits in three trips to the plate.
Against Calexico, Jon Beeson was tagged with the defeat. The loss could be attributed to a fourth inning meltdown when the Longhorns gave up eight unearned runs.
Although the coach would have liked for his charges to come home with a better tournament record, the two days of play allowed him the opportunity to evaluate all of his players.
"We were able to see a lot of different kids in all kinds of situations," Pettet said. "I think we know now that we'll have good pitching and we'll need good defense if we want to go back to state."
In addition to their two wins in the Mohave Tournament, the Horn record includes a 6-5 season opening victory over St. Johns. Shewey's two-run home run in the top of the seventh nailed down the victory. Young was credited with the win after hurling two scoreless innings. Beeson threw three scoreless frames after the Redskins jumped out to a 5-0 lead.
On to Miami
The Longhorns returned to action at 6:30 p.m. yesterday (Thursday) against Miami in the six-team Vandal Invitational Tournament (Results not available at press time).
Round robin action continues at 1:30 p.m. today against Superior and at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday) vs. San Manuel. All games will be played at Miami High School.
Prior to the tournament, Pettet said his pitching rotation would be Jeremy Heariet, Shewey and Beeson. Donnie Wilbanks and Young also will see action, the coach said.