It's Crunch Time For Baseball Regional Placements

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The Payson Longhorn baseball team chalked up two of the easiest wins the players and coach Jerry Daniels will ever enjoy.

The victories came by the way of forfeits from the Chinle Wildcats on Saturday.

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Matt Behrens could be coach Jerry Daniels' choice to start today's game against Sinagua.

Originally, Chinle and Payson were scheduled to play one another in a doubleheader on the PHS diamond.

"Chinle called about 2 p.m. Friday and canceled," PHS athletic director Dave Bradley said. "They said they had ineligibilities and wouldn't have enough players."

With the pair of forfeit victories, Payson's Grand Canyon record improved to 3-7 for the year. The Horns are now in sixth place in the GCR standings with two games remaining in the season. Those clashes are 3:30 today against Sinagua and April 28 against Coconino. Both are on PHS diamond.

The best the Horns can hope for is to sweep the two remaining games and move up in the standings.

A 5-7 finish could be good enough to tie for third place in the final GCR rankings.

Currently Sinagua is third with a 5-4 record, Flagstaff is 5-5 and Page is in fifth with a 3-7 mark.

Mingus (10-1) and Coconino (9-1) are in a red hot battle for the GCR championship.

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Longhorn catcher Matt LeVac could be the battery mate for whichever pitcher the Horns have on the mound in today's crucial showdown against Sinagua.

If the standings do not change this week, in the first round of the GCR tournament April 30, Coconino would host Chinle, Payson would travel to Sinagua and Flagstaff have home field advantage against Page. Region champion Mingus would be awarded a bye.

That scenario, however, might not unfold depending on the results of the final week of GCR play.

The tight battle for third through sixth place in the region renders the outcome of the Longhorns' final two games crucial. If Payson wins both, the team has a shot at an advantageous home seed in the opening GCR round. If the Horns drop one or both of the games, they'll probably have to open on the road where GCR victories can be hard to come by.

During season crunch time, as it is now, it is usually pitching that carries teams to victories.

Daniels has at his disposal Matt Behrens, Daren Daniels, Jason Sweet and Donnie Wilbanks for mound duty. Daren Daniels has the best record, 3-0, and lowest ERA, 3.33, but the coach has usually used Behrens (2-4; 6.08) as his front line pitcher.

Sweet (1-5; 7.88), a sophomore, has been the mound work horse hurling a team-leading 29.3 innings. Wilbanks (2-3; 8.94) has had some good moments on the hill but is used mostly in relief.

Coach Daniels said he was undecided on the starter for today's game, but all the pitchers would be available for duty.

Baseball standings

Mingus 10-1

Coconino 9-1

Sinagua 5-4

Flagstaff 5-5

Page 4-6

Payson 3-7

Chinle 0-12

Saturday's Games

Coconino 12, Sinagua 2

Page 11, Flagstaff 6

(Payson def. Chinle 2x)

Softball standings

Flagstaff* 9-0

Page 7-4

Payson 6-4

Coconino 5-5

Mingus 6-6

Chinle 2-8

Sinagua 1-9

  • Clinched region title.

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