After opening Arizona State Little League championship tournament play with three consecutive wins, the Payson All-Stars have fallen on hard times, losing back-to-back clashes.
The Rim stars fell July 24 to Verde Valley, 13-10, and July 26 to Lookout Mountain, 7-4.
The stars wrapped up pool play last night, Thursday, in Cottonwood against Tucson Sabino (results not available at press time).
The twin losses have put a dent in the team's hopes of finishing as one of the top two teams in pool A and advancing to the tournament's final four.
If Payson whips Sabino, and other scenarios unfold in the Rim Little Leaguers' favor, the team still has a chance to sneak into the final four as a No. 2 seed.
If Payson ends up tied for second place in the final pool standings, the tiebreaker used would be results of the head-to-head meeting and runs allowed per defensive inning.
The tournament suffered a one-day delay July 25 when all games were rained out.
Pool play for all 14 qualifiers wrapped up yesterday. The state semifinals will now be played today, Friday, and the state championship will be held Saturday, July 29 in Cottonwood.
Payson opened the tournament with wins over Tucson Pantano, 13-0; Casa Grande, 15-0; and Blythe, Calif., 12-2. Payson represents the Area One and Division One champions having earlier won those crowns in postseason play in Page and Eagar-Springerville.