If the Grand Canyon regional playoff picture unfolds as PHS coach Teddy Pettet hopes, the Longhorn baseball team could be opening the Grand Canyon tournament tomorrow in Payson.
To earn a home seed in the opening round, the Horns must finish among the top four in the regular season standings.
The second division finishers in the standings travel to first division team's home fields for the first tournament round.
Survivors of first round games travel May 3 and 4 to Mingus for the remainder of the tournament.
The regular standings will not be tabulated until the results of the Longhorns' clash against Coconino last
night (not available at press time) and Grand Canyon games today (Friday) are in.
A trio of regional wins last week strengthened the Longhorns' bid to open the postseason on PHS field. The Horns clipped Flagstaff 7-5 April 22 then swept a double-header, 16-2 and 13-3, April 24 in Chinle.
"That was a crucial three-game set," Pettet said.
In the opening win over Chinle, the Horns had to shake off the effects of an almost five-hour bus ride to the reservation school for an 11 a.m. start. Payson wasted little time in getting on the scoreboard scoring 10 runs in the first inning and five more in the second.
Sophomore Matt Behrens received the starting call from Pettet and went the full five innings allowing two earned runs and striking out six. Behrens did not walk a batter.
The Horns' 18-hit barrage was led by senior Ryan Thiel who was 4-for-4 at the plate including two doubles. Mat LeVac wrapped up the day a perfect 3-for-3 with two doubles and three RBIs. Ashton Shewey had three hits in four plate appearances.
In the second game win, freshman Jason Sweet earned his first varsity victory.
After starting on the hill, he went the distance giving up four hits and two walks. Sweet also struck out seven and did not allow an earned run.
"It was an excellent outing," Pettet said.
Although the Payson bats weren't as explosive as they were in the opener, the offense was able to churn out 14 hits. Ricky Young (3-for-3) and Dustin Hacker (3-for-4) had days to tell mom and dad about. In Hacker's output were two doubles and three RBIs. Trevor LaHaye and Kyle Fogarty contributed two hits each.
In the win over Flagstaff, Shewey started on the hill and gave up four earned runs in 3 2/3 innings. After seeing Shewey allow solo home runs in the first and second innings and a two-run double in the fourth, Pettet called upon Hacker for relief.
"He responded to the challenge and held the Wildcats scoreless over the next 2 2/3 innings," Pettet said.
Shewey returned to the mound in the seventh inning with two base runners aboard and one out. By setting down the side, he earned his second save of the season. Hacker was credited with the win.
The offense was fueled by the long ball as Shewey, Donnie Wilbanks and Ron Maksymowski all had two-run shots. Wilbanks' circuit blast came in the bottom of the fifth inning when he lifted an 0-1 pitch over the right center field fence. The home run gave the Horns a 7-5 lead that they never relinquished.