After a so-so 2-3 showing in the season-opening Mohave Thunderbird Invitational, the Longhorn baseball team rebounded to finish 5-0 at the Miami Copper Classic High School Tournament.
The Longhorns (8-3) reversal of fortunes could be attributed to an improved offense and steady play in the field.
"We had much better hitting and the defense was solid throughout the tournament," coach Teddy Pettet said.
The highlight of the fray, which was March 12 to 15 at Miami High School, was probably a 4-3 victory over the highly touted Globe Tigers.
"Globe is one of the preseason favorites to win it all in 2003," Pettet said.
The Tigers entered the tournament boasting an accomplished set of athletes who earlier this school year won both the state football and basketball championships.
"They have the talent to challenge for the baseball title as well," Pettet said.
In caging the Tigers, the Longhorns relied on Ashton Shewey's hot bat and accomplished pitching arm. His two-out double in the bottom of the fifth inning erased a 3-1 Payson deficit and propelled the Horns to the victory.
As the winning pitcher, Shewey (2-1) turned in a yeoman-like performance in which he gave up just three hits. He also struck out nine and walked four.
Offensively, Ty Brunson paced the team with three singles.
Manny Arguello contributed two hits to the Longhorns' eight-hit outburst.
Although the win over Globe was the turning point of the tournament, it was a final day 13-3 triumph over San Manuel that nailed down the tournament championship for the Longhorns.
The Horns received a stellar pitching effort from sophomore Donnie Wilbanks in beating the Miners. In four innings, Wilbanks (2-0) gave up two runs and four hits. Sophomore Kyle Sachak pitched a scoreless final inning in relief of Wilbanks
The Horns' 11-hit attack was led by Waylon Pettet, Jeremy Heairet and Taylor Walden. All finished with two hits each. Walden also contributed three RBIs.
In the tournament opener, the Longhorns took advantage of Miami's shoddy fielding to coast to a 7-3 victory.
"We took advantage of some Vandal miscues to produce runs," Pettet said. "We could only manage six hits."
Senior Jon Beeson -- who Pettet said in pre-season was one of the Horns' top-two starters -- picked up the win allowing eight hits. Beeson (1-1) struck out seven and walked three.
On the second day of the tournament, Heairet (2-0) pitched to an 8-5 win over the Coolidge Bears.
"Coolidge sports a young team, but is still very competitive," Pettet said.
During his stint on the hill, Heairet gave up nine hits, struck out eight and did not issue a base on balls.
Heairet also contributed two hits as did shortstop Nate Perna. Perna's solid tournament showing at the plate improved his batting average to .380.
Waylon Pettet leads the Horn offensively with a .440 average.
Ronnie Maksymowski and Shewey swatted back-to-back home runs in the second inning that propelled Payson out to a 3-0 lead.
According to coach Pettet, Maksymowski's tournament efforts at the plate and in the field earned him the starting third base position.
In a 13-3 triumph over Superior that was shortened to five innings on the 10-run rule, Payson jumped out to a 2-0 lead at the end of the first inning. At the conclusion of two frames, the Horns expanded it to 8-0.
In the second inning, Shewey crushed a grand slam home run.
Waylon Pettet's three-run homer in the third inning helped the Longhorns push their lead to 13-0.
Wilbanks received the starting nod from coach Pettet and picked up the win after hurling two complete innings.
Austin Goss relieved Wilbanks and hurled two full frames before being replaced by Walden. The senior righthander -- who transferred to Payson after starting the school year at Mesa Red Mountain where he was an award-winning linebacker for the Mountain Lion football team -- pitched a scoreless fifth inning.
The Longhorns were slated to return to action March 17 against Bentonville (Ark.) at Phoenix Sunrise Mountain High School.
Due to rain, that game will be replayed March 24.