The thrill of victory that had escaped the Payson Little League 12-year-old all-stars in the first two games of the state tournament was finally celebrated July 19 with a 7-5 win over Bullhead City.
In the thriller in Flagstaff, the Payson stars trailed 5-4 in the top of the sixth inning and were only one out away from suffering a third consecutive defeat.
At bat in the precarious situation was Dailey Carnes who had a two-strike count on him. The young player responded to the pressure with a clutch single that kept Payson hopes alive and jump-started the mother of all rallies.
Nick McMullen, who was up next, singled to drive in both the tying and go-ahead runs.
Before Bullhead could extinguish the rally, Payson had pounded out six consecutive base hits.
"It was super exciting," all-star manager Brent Cannon said.
Chance Randall started on the hill and hurled four complete innings before giving way to reliever Blake Cannon.
While both pitched well, it was catcher Zach Wolf that Brent Cannon lauded.
"He does a great job on defense, he blocks everything and lets nothing get by," he said.
The manager also praised Austin Young and Dallen McNabb for their contributions to the celestial squad.
"They are critical players and a big part of our team," he said.
Payson lost its first two tournament games, 11-2 to Verde Valley and 8-6 to Arrowhead.
The all-stars return to action today, July 22, against Douglas.
The round robin portion of the tournament concludes for Payson tomorrow at 4 p.m. against Mesa Southern.