After watching his Longhorn baseball team stumble to a 1-4-1 record in Mohave Invitational Tournament, coach Teddy Pettet said his team has some maturing to do.
"We are young, inexperienced, timid and don't know the game very well," he said. "We have the raw talent, but we are going to have to work hard to win games."
In the tournament, March 3 to 6 near Bullhead City, the Horns dropped their opener to Chino Valley, 6-1.
Ricky Young, a senior infielder and pitcher, opened on the mound and absorbed the loss after hurling two innings. He was relieved by sophomore Matt Behrens.
Payson scored its only run in the second inning when Donnie Wilbanks walked and later crossed the plate on an RBI single by Kyle Sachak.
In the Horns second game, host Mohave chalked up a 5-0 victory over Payson's ace pitcher Ashton Shewey. In four innings, Shewey gave up five hits, struck out four, walked two and stranded four baserunners.
Pitted against Flagstaff Coconino in the third round, the Longhorns beat the Panthers 5-3 to record the team's only win of the four-day stay.
Because Coconino competes in the same Class 4A Grand Canyon region that Payson is a member of, the victory was good news for the beleaguered Pettet.
Junior Dustin Hacker, a transfer from Colorado, picked up the win hurling four complete innings. The 5-foot-9-inch, 160-pound junior allowed three runs, five hits and struck out seven. Showing good control with both his fast ball and curve ball, he walked just one.
Although Hacker doesn't try to throw a sinker ball, his pitches often resemble that type of offering.
"It's kind of a natural sinker because of his arm angle," Pettet said. "He pitched a good game."
Behrens hurled the final inning in relief and was credited with a save.
In an 11-0 loss to Lake Havasu, freshman Jason Sweet started on the hill and was tagged for four earned runs on five hits. Sweet, who last season was playing for the inaugural Rim Country Middle School baseball team, struck out two and walked one.
After one inning, sophomore Andy Sanders relieved Sweet and gave up three earned runs.
The bit of offense the Horns generated was a second inning single by Kyle Fogarty and a single by Shewey in the fourth.
A clash against Palo Verde of Blythe, Calif., ended in a rare 5-5 tie when umpires called off the game after five full innings on the time limit rule.
Sachak hurled three-plus innings and allowed four earned runs before giving way to sophomore Larry Everetts. During Sachak's stint, he coughed up just two hits but suffered control problems walking three.
Everetts faced eight batters and allowed one run on one hit and a walk.
The offense, which had been on its death bed throughout the tournament, finally came alive in the finale against the Winslow Bulldogs.
After scoring five runs in the first inning, the Horns looked to be on their way to a good showing against the team's longtime rivals from the 3A conference. Coach Art Griffith's Bulldogs, however, refused to wilt under Payson pressure and came roaring back to record a 13-8 triumph.
Throughout the game, the Payson pitching mound looked to be more of a merry-go-round than a hurling spot. In four innings, Pettet paraded four pitchers to the mound in an effort to stem the Bulldog tide.
Alan Prewitt got the start but lasted only two-thirds of an inning. Wilbanks came on to pitch 1 1/3 innings in relief. Austin Goss relieved for two-thirds of an inning and Everetts wrapped up.
The four frustrated hurlers combined to give up eight hits, walk seven and issue three wild pitches. Prewitt was saddled with the loss after allowing three earned runs.
The Longhorns returned to action yesterday (Thursday) in the Miami Invitational Tournament which will wrap up tomorrow (Saturday).
At 3:45 p.m. today (Friday) on the Miami High School field, the Longhorns play host to San Manuel. At 11:15 a.m. tomorrow (Saturday), the Horns are slated to tangle with Superior.
Payson has the opportunity March 15 to test its mettle against a longtime rival from the 3A East region -- the Blue Ridge Yellowjackets. Game time at Longhorn field is 3:30 p.m.