It took the two best teams in the Arizona State Little League tournament to sidetrack the Payson 12-year-old all-star team's aspirations of winning the town's first baseball title.
Verde Valley and Arrowhead, the two squads that met Sunday, July 27 for the state title, whipped the Payson stars in the opening two games of the postseason tournament played in Flagstaff.
On July 16, Verde Valley beat the Payson all-stars 11-2.
The following day, Arrowhead upset the Rim Country crew 8-2.
In the state championship game, Arrowhead edged Verde Valley 7-4 and will represent Arizona at the West Regional Tournament in San Bernardino, Calif.
After Payson dropped its opening two state clashes, the team rebounded to tip Bullhead City 7-5.
In other games, Payson lost to High Desert, 7-2, and Douglas, 10-7, but beat Mesa Southern 4-1.
The Payson Little League all-star manager said the competition in the state tournament was fierce mostly because of the talent-laden teams participating.
The Payson all-stars advanced to the 14-team state tournament after winning the Area 1 and District 1 championships. The tournaments were played earlier this month in Winslow.
In the championship round of the District tournament, Payson lost 5-4 to Blue Ridge but rebounded a day later to claim the title with a 13-2 win over the Pinetop-Lakeside team.
The state berth represented the fourth consecutive season that the group advanced to the Arizona finals with Area and District honors in tow.