An intriguing scenario is unfolding in the chase for the 3A East region baseball crown.
It involves longtime rivals Show Low and Payson.
Currently, the two teams are tied atop the East standings with identical 6-1 records.
With only three games remaining in the regular season, there is a very good chance the Cougars and Longhorns could tie for the championship. Which would result in a tiebreaker being needed to determine the No. 1 seed into the state tournament, set to begin May 2 in the Valley. The first tiebreaker would probably be results of head-to-head meetings.
But since the two teams split their games this year, Payson won a March 11 showdown in Show Low and the Cougars rebounded to win April 11 at PHS, the tiebreaker for the top seed would be power point rankings.
If power points are used, the top seed would go to Show Low and the Horns would fall to second.
In the AIA rankings, Show Low is sitting in the fourth slot with 93.76 points. Payson is 12th with 85.30 points.
The Cougars' higher ranking is partly due to the team's 18-5 regular season record. The Longhorns are 13-12 overall.
The best hopes the Longhorns have of advancing to state as a top seed is for the team to win its final three games and the Cougars stumble in the final stretch.
The opportunity for PHS to pick up the first of the victories the team needs occurs today, April 18, on Longhorn diamond. Payson's foe, the Blue Ridge Yellow Jackets, are tied for third in the East standings with a 4-3 record, 15-8 overall. Game time is 4 p.m.
Bugling the Elks
After having the Horns five-game East winning streak snapped April 11 by Show Low, PHS rebounded four days later to whip Round Valley 5-0.
In the victory, Sean Dougherty stepped up big time to hurl the much-needed complete game shut-out.
In seven innings, Dougherty scattered six hits, struck out 11 and walked only one.
Payson scored a run in the first inning and tacked on four more in the fourth before allowing and the defense and Dougherty to protect the cushion.
The Payson "D," after being a bit shoddy in the loss to Show Low, turned in an errorless game against RV.
Offensively, Ridge Halenar and Tyler Savage were both 2-for-3 at the plate. One of Halenar's base knocks was a double.
Currently Savage is the Longhorns' leading hitter with a .487 average. Halenar, who is hitting at a .442 clip, is second on the team.
Freshman Weston Gibson also shined in the win over the Elks with a double and an RBI. The frosh standout is hitting .405, which includes a team high 10 doubles.
Senior first baseman/pitcher Anthony Pearce was 1-for-2 with a run scored and an RBI.