Any hopes the Payson High School baseball team harbored of a top-four Grand Canyon Region finish and an advantageous home seed into the postseason tournament were doused by an 18-3 loss Tuesday to the visiting Mingus Marauders.
With the defeat, the Longhorns fall to 1-6 in GCR play and 8-15 overall.
For the Horns to battle back into region contention, a doubleheader sweep of the Chinle Wildcats tomorrow is an absolute must. Game times are noon and 2 p.m. on PHS diamond.
In the regional tournament, which begins April 30, the fifth-, sixth- and seventh-place regular season finishers must travel for the opening round to the home site of the second-, third- and fourth-place teams.
Since the Horns joined the 4A conference two years ago, the home seed in the tournament has proven to have a huge advantage.
With the loss to Mingus, the Horns are now looking at visiting either the region's second- or third-place team in the opening round of regional play.
Whipping either one of those teams, possibly Coconino and Mingus, would be a huge obstacle to clear in the single-elimination tournament.
The lone highlight in the loss to Mingus was Kyle Sachak's home run blast over the left center field fence.
Matt Behrens started on the mound for Payson and hurled 3 2/3 innings before giving way to senior reliever Donnie Wilbanks.
Behrens was saddled with the loss and fell to 2-5 for the year.
Split in Page
Payson's lone GCR win this season was chalked up April 16 in the first game of a doubleheader at Page.
After whipping the Sand Devils 15-1, the Jeckyll-and-Hyde Horns dropped the second game 20-4.
In the victory, Payson pounded out a season high 18 hits, including a home run by senior catcher Tyler Williams and a four-for-four performance from Behrens. Matt LeVac had three hits in five plate appearances.
Senior hurler Daren Daniels improved his record to 3-0 with the Page win. In six innings on the hill, he allowed only two hits, didn't walk a batter and lowered his ERA to a team-high 3.33.
Sophomore hurler Jason Sweet absorbed the second game loss after failing to receive any defensive help from his teammates. The Horns committed a whopping nine errors on the field.
The 20 runs the Horns allowed was the most the team has given up this season.
Heading into tomorrow's clashes against the Cats, LeVac is leading the team offensively with a .417 batting average. Williams is hitting at a .407 clip and Sweet has posted a .354 mark.
Most of the Horns' power this season has been supplied by Williams who has three doubles, a triple and has punched a trio of round trip tickets.
Williams is second on the team in RBIs with 17. Daniels leads with 18.
Following the showdowns against Chinle, the Horns return to GCR action at 3:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 26 on PHS diamond against Sinagua.
The season finale, originally slated for April 29 against Coconino, has been changed to April 28 on PHS diamond. Game time is 7 p.m.