Cats Bow Out Of Diamond Tussle

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The more than decade-long baseball rivalry between the Payson Longhorns and Show Low Cougars could be over.

A showdown pitting the Horns against the green and gold scheduled for yesterday (Monday) at PHS was canceled Friday afternoon by Show Low officials.

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The Longhorn baseball players huddle after scoring their only run of the game in Payson's 6-1 loss March 25 to the Mingus Marauders. In the game, Payson got just one hit off Mingus hurler Drew Coffey.

"(PHS athletic director) Dave (Bradley) told me after our game (March 26 vs. Buckeye) that we wouldn't be playing Show Low," PHS coach Teddy Pettet said.

The coach said he was told the reason for the cancellation was because Show Low was to play a 3A East region game today (Tuesday).

PHS athletic director Dave Bradley confirmed that Show Low coach David Nicholas said the Cougars had a region game today against archrival Snowflake.

"He said he didn't want to play back to back games," Bradley said. "He thought his players would get back home too late."

Nicholas was not available for comment.

Show Low and Payson engaged in several memorable diamond battles when both schools were members of the East region.

After Payson was realigned to the 4A Grand Canyon region at the start of the school year, the baseball rivalry appears to have fallen by the wayside.

The March 26 clash pitting Payson against Buckeye, which the Horns eventually won by the football like score of 21-19, took on the aura of a long distance marathon.

Throughout the game, runners from both teams circled the base paths as coaches shuffled pitchers to and from the mound.

In one of the strangest prep baseball occurrences, the Longhorn's starting pitcher, Dustin Hacker, was credited with a save.

So, how does that happen?

Hacker started on the mound, but after being hammered by Hawk hitters received firemen's relief from Ricky Young and Donnie Wilbanks.

After Payson took the lead late in the game, Hacker returned to the mound in relief of Wilbanks. By keeping the Hawks at bay, the transfer student from Colorado earned a save. Young was eventually credited with the victory.

Offensively, the Horns were led by senior Ashton Shewey who had four hits in five plate appearances. In his contributions were two home runs and eight RBIs.

A day prior to the win over Buckeye, Shewey was the losing pitcher in the Horns 6-1 defeat at the hands of the visiting Mingus Marauders.

The only run Payson scored against the dominating Mingus hurler was on an RBI single by Kyle Sachak that rolled through the legs of the Mingus right fielder and almost to the fence. On the play, Young -- who had walked -- scored from first base.

Sachak's hit was the Horns lone base knock of the game.

With the loss, the Horns fall to 0-1 in the Grand Canyon regional title chase.

The Longhorns return to the diamond tomorrow (Wednesday) against Coronado. Game time is 4 p.m. in Scottsdale.

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