Junior Fireballer Hurls Upset In Lakeside

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Whipping highly favored and league-leading Blue Ridge 14-4 might have been the thrill of Jason Sweet's baseball life.

"I was in the zone," the Payson High School junior said. "It felt like I couldn't do anything wrong out there. It was a great feeling."

In the upset, April 21 at BR high school in Lakeside, Sweet opened on the hill and hurled the complete game victory.

Facing 36 opposing batsmen, he allowed two earned runs, six hits, struck out 10 and walked only two.

As good as Sweet was on the hill, it might have been the all out efforts of his teammates that led to the demise of the Yellow Jackets who entered the fray with a sterling 17-4 record, 8-1 in the East region.

"I have never seen our team so pumped up," Sweet said.

Probably none of the players was more stoked for the showdown in the White Mountains than Sweet's longtime friend Matt LeVac.

The hard hitting senior finished 3-for-5 at the plate with a booming grand slam home run over the left field fence, a line shot double off the outfield wall and a single.

His performance had the juices flowing in Sweet and the Longhorn dug out.

"Matt and I have played on five different teams together but this was by far the (most fun) game we have every played in," Sweet said. "The best win too."

Coach Jerry Daniels agrees with the assessment.

"Oh, man, it built some confidence in us," he said.

In addition to the pitching of Sweet and the extra base hitting of LeVac, the Horn effort received boosts from Zak Miller, Albert Talamonte, Ridge Halenar and Andy Sanders.

Miller, the Horns' season-long leadoff hitter, pummeled Jacket pitching finishing 3-for-5 with a double and triple. He also tied LeVac's RBI mark with four.

Talamonte had three singles in five plate appearances and Halenar was 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Sanders was also 2-for-4 with an RBI, double and three runs scored.

The lopsided final score did not accurately portray a game that was closely contested until the top of the eighth inning.

The regulation seven innings wrapped up with the two foes dead knotted 4-4.

"It was neck and neck the entire game and then we went into the eighth and scored 10 runs," Sweet said.

With the win, the Longhorns improved to 12-10 overall and 7-3 in the East.

The Longhorns wrap up the East campaign April 25 in Eagar against Round Valley and April 27 vs. Show Low on the Longhorn diamond.

Also on the schedule is a regular season finale April 28 against Fountain Hills in Payson. That game is a rare evening showdown set to begin at 7 p.m.

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