Fireballing right-hander Westin Gibson hurled the Payson Major Division All-Stars to a 5-1 victory over Winslow and a berth in the District 1 Tournament.
The win over the visiting Bulldogs, July 2 at Rumsey Park, pushed Payson's Area Tournament record to 3-1. That means when the Rim country hardballers open district play at 4:30 p.m. July 7 in Eagar-Springerville against either Holbrook or Winslow, a single loss will eliminate them from post-season play.
Little League tournaments are double elimination and any losses incurred in the area frays carry over to the district finals.
Page wrapped up the Payson skirmish with a perfect 3-0 record and will advance as area champions.
The top two teams from area tournaments around the state earn the right to participate at district. The district champions advance to the state tournament in late July in Gilbert.
Payson All-Star coach Eddie Duran said he anticipates starting Jake Sleeper on the hill in the district opener.
In whipping Winslow and earning the right to advance in the tournament, the Rim stars relied on the offerings of Gibson who is turning out to be one of the finest pitchers to ever don a Payson all-star uniform.
Hurling six complete innings, Gibson struck out seven and was credited with his second victory of the tournament.
His other win, chalked up June 27 in the area opener, was an 8-2 triumph over Flagstaff Continental.
As good as Gibson was in the win over Winslow, he would have been saddled with a loss had it not been for four-run uprising in the fourth.
"We were tied up 1-1, but then managed to scratch out some runs with walks and hits," Duran said. "We also got two runs by stealing home."
In addition to Payson's win over Winslow and Continental, the Rim stars also whipped Flagstaff Coconino, 8-4. Payson's lone loss was 14-2 to Page.
If the Payson stars can play their way to the district crown, they would be only the second Rim country Little League team to do so. The other was posted by the 2003 team.