Miguel Mendoza came within an eyelash of duplicating what New York Yankee Don Larsen accomplished in the fifth game of the 1956 World Series -- pitching a perfect game.
Mendoza, the starting hurler in the Payson Little League 10-11-year-old All-Star team, came within a walk of turning in a perfect game. His team won, 12-0, beating Flagstaff on June 30 in Show Low.
The only blemish on his effort was bases on balls. He did, however, finish with a no-hitter and faced only 13 hitters -- one over the minimum.
The game was shorted to four innings on the 10-run mercy rule.
With the win over Flagstaff, which occurred in the opening round of the Area 1 tournament, Payson advances to a 7 p.m. quarterfinal clash today, Tuesday, against Flagstaff Continental.
All Area 1 tournament games are being played in Show Low.
All-Star manager Eddie Duran expects to start Blake Cannon against Continental.
"We will be facing a tough team, they are good," Duran said.
In whipping Flagstaff, the manager would not single out a single offensive star, saying only that "all the players contributed."
"They played a great game," Duran said.
Mendoza's diamond efforts in Show Low were nothing new for the standout. In the spring, he won overall title of the 11-12-year-old division at the Pepsi Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit and Run championships and, last year, starred on a Little League All-Star team that finished fifth at state.
More star wars
In other postseason All-Star action, manager Slade Gibson's 9-10-year old Rim Country team is 1-1, after an 8-7 victory over Flagstaff Coconino, which was followed by a 12-7 loss to Winslow.
In whipping Coconino, Austin Gibson's steal of home plate proved to be the winning run. Gibson had tied up the game earlier with a three RBI double.
Bryce Goodman and Quinton Wells shared the pitching duties.
In falling to Winslow, errors and mental mistakes in the middle innings spelled the demise of the Payson celestial squad.
"We just broke down, but the kids never gave up," Gibson said. "We came back to score four (runs) in the last inning."
Tyrus Sarnowski absorbed the pitching loss.
The stars returned to action at 5 p.m. yesterday (results not available at press time) against the winner of a game between Flagstaff and Mount Elden.
All Area 1 tournament games are being played in Flagstaff.
Also in Flagstaff, Payson's 11-12-year-old All-Star team is off and rolling, with a 2-0 tournament mark.
Payson opened June 29 with a 9-4 win over Flagstaff and kept the ball rolling the following day, with a 4-1 thumping of Mount Elden.
Payson continue its quest for a tournament crown at 4 p.m. today, Tuesday, on the Flagstaff Major league field.
The tournament wraps up at 10 a.m. July 7 with the championship finale.