The Longhorn baseball team rallied from a slow season start to edge highly regarded Show Low in both teams' East region opener.
Payson (6-8 and 1-0) caged the Cougars, 8-6, March 11 on Show Low High School diamond.
In whipping coach David Nikolaus' Cats, Payson jumped on top 6-0 in a third inning only to have SL pull to within 6-4 entering the bottom of the seventh. A last gasp Cougar rally produced two more runs that dead knotted the clash, 6-6, and sent it into extra innings.
After both teams went scoreless in the eighth, the Horns pushed two runs across the plate in the top of the ninth to take the lead. In the bottom of the frame, the Horn defense and pitching nailed down the upset by shutting out the Cougars.
Entering the season, Show Low was among the favorites to contend for the East championship. Payson opened as an unheralded unknown mostly because the team lost its top two pitchers, Jason Sweet and Jacob Willis from last year. Both graduated with the class of 2007.
Predictions of the demise of a PHS that qualified for state in 2007 appeared somewhat valid when the Longhorns finished 1-4 at the season opening Mohave Valley Tournament. The Horns only win was 7-3 over Class 1A Joseph City.
At the Miami Invitational, the Horns showed improvement posting a 3-2 record. But days later, in a doubleheader against Fountain Hills, the Horns lost two one-run decisions.
In the team's home opener, March 10 against Camp Verde, Payson rode freshman Westin Gibson's two run home run in the bottom of the seventh to a 12-11 come from behind triumph.