Break out the CD player and crank up the volume on Queen's rock hit "We Are the Champions."
It's now appropriate to do so, because "champions" are what members of the Payson High School baseball team are.
The Longhorns share the title with the Show Low Cougars by virtue of both team's 9-1 East region records. Since the two rivals split their two head-to-head regular season meetings, both have been declared co-champs. Overall, the Cougars finished 21-6 and the Horns were 16-13.
Although SLHS coach David Nikolaus' charges posted a better overall record than Payson, the Horns were at their best when their best was needed -- during the crucial East region games.
Payson assured itself of a share of the title on April 25 by whipping homestanding Snowflake 16-4. The clash marked the end of the regular season for both teams.
In disposing of the Lobos, who finished fourth in the final East standings, the Horns were buoyed by the pitching of Hunter Haynes and Anthony Pearce.
Haynes started on the hill and hurled the first three frames before giving way to Pearce who pitched for two innings in the game shortened on the 10-run mercy rule. Haynes was credited with the win and improves his record to 4-3.
Offensively, the Horns pounded out 11 hits against Lobo starter Cody Overly and reliever Tyler Byers.
Freshman Weston Gibson led the hit parade finishing 2-for-3 at the plate with three runs scored and a trio of RBIs.
Gibson's outstanding contributions this season are turning the head of coaches and fans from around the 3A conference. Many are calling him one of the finest freshmen to ever don a small-town high school varsity uniform. He's also being compared to some of Payson's finest ball players including Bryan Zumbro, Hunter Walden and Ky and Cade Bradley.
Pearce contributed two doubles, two runs scored and an RBI.
Defensively, the team turned in a banner effort by not committing a single error.