Solid pitching, good defense and powerful hitting paced the Payson Major Division (11-12-years) All-Stars in the early going of the Area 1 postseason tournament.
On June 29 in Flagstaff, Payson tipped off play with a 9-4 win over Flagstaff. The following day, Payson continued its stellar efforts, defeating Mt. Elden, 4-1.
In the win over Flagstaff, Cole Belcher opened on the hill, but after suffering control problems in the second inning, was replaced by Garrett Geske.
Offensively, Payson unleashed a 12-hit attack that included an inside-the-park home run by Justin Cobb.
Defensively, All-Star veteran coach Tom Belcher was elated with the team's rock-solid performance.
"We were great and, at times, spectacular," he said.
In particular, he cited third baseman Gunner Goodman who helped turn a double play in the sixth inning.
"With runners on first and second and no outs, he started the play, "Belcher said. "It was awesome and shut down a potential rally."
In whipping Mount Elden, Payson's Dylan Richardson hurled the first five innings, giving up a single run. Justin Cobb relieved in the sixth and was credited with the save.
In the win, Payson wasted little time lighting up the scoreboard, pounding out eight hits in the first inning. Cole Belcher's two-run circuit blast was the big hit of the inning.
The coach again lauded the defense, especially catcher Ray Lott, who "didn't let anything get by him."
Although Payson dominated most of the game, the final frame once again turned crucial.
With a runner on at first and Mount Elden threatening to rally, Payson's defense stepped up.
"Cole (Belcher) started a 5-3-2 double play and Garrett (Geske) made a diving catch of a line drive to end the game," Tom Belcher said.