All-Stars One Game Shy Of State Berth

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The Payson Little League 9-10-year-old all-star baseball team won six consecutive postseason tournament games before a 14-4 loss to Pinetop/Lakeside in the District championship finale eliminated the crew from advancing to state.

The Rim country squad's tournament appearance began June 20 at Flagstaff Mount Elden field with a 15-14 loss to the Flagstaff stars.

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The Payson Little League All-Star team advanced to the championship round of the district tournament before it was eliminated by the Pinetop-Lakeside stars. During the tournament, the team won six consecutive elimination games.

Although the defeat dropped the Payson team into the Area 1 loser's bracket and on the verge of elimination in the tournament, the players put on a rally that would have made a pro team proud.

In the course of the six days, with no games played during the Independence Day holiday, the Payson crew whipped Tuba City 17-3, Coconino 15-10, Continental 9-8 and Winslow 11-9.

The victories earned Payson a berth in the tour-team District championships in Show Low July 7. The tournament pitted the top two teams from Area 1 and Area 2 against one another.

Payson opened with a 23-21 victory over homestanding Show Low and advanced to the championship by whipping Page 11-9.

Pitted against Pinetop/Lakeside in the gold-medal round, Payson fell 14-4.

Following the tournament, all-star manager Eddie Duran praised the efforts of his young players.

"What we lacked in skill, we made up for in heart," he said. "This team won six elimination games gaining courage and confidence after each win."

Duran also praised his assistant coaches Scott Geske, Ty Goodman and Tom Belcher, "for their time and efforts that contributed to make this a fun tournament."

The manager thanked the parents, fans and friends for their support of the young players throughout the postseason.

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