A 12-2 loss to East rival Show Low wasn’t the region jump-start Payson baseball faithful were hoping for.
Nonetheless, the stunning defeat turned into a disheartening fact of baseball life March 17 on Payson High School diamond.
The Cougars got off to a roaring start scoring four runs in the top of the first, which created more than a little anxiety among the pro-Payson spectators.
In the top of the sixth, with Show Low leading 5-2, the ferocious felines went on a rampage scoring seven runs to nail down the win.
Payson’s only scores were single runs in the bottom of the second and third innings. One run was tallied on Devin England’s home run and another on a Ridge Halenar RBI double that scored Hunter Haynes.
In all, Payson hitters struggled against Cougar pitching, pounding out only five base hits, two of which were doubles by Halenar.
Edwin Estrada also doubled.
Entering the game, the Horns looked primed for an East win, mostly because ace hurler Hunter Haynes was on the mound.
Late last season and early this year he has proven to be one of the finest pitchers in the 3A conference.
The outing against Show Low however, wasn’t one of his finest showings, as he was torched for 10 hits and eight runs in five innings on the hill.
He did, however, strike out six and walked just one.
Dakota Marshall relieved and gave up five hits and three earned runs in one inning.
With the loss, the Longhorns fall to 7-4 overall and 0-1 in the East.
Corralling the Cowboys
A day prior to hosting Show Low, the Longhorns traveled to Camp Verde where they took a 7-4 non-region win over the Cowboys.
Payson’s nine-hit attack, eight stolen bases and five-hit relief pitching from Keaton Duran spelled the demise of the cowpunchers.
For the offense, sophomore Weston Gibson, Ryan Williams and Halenar all had two hits each.
Sean Dougherty got the starting call from coach Jerry Daniels and shutout CV over the course of two innings.
Duran came on in relief to hurl five innings allowing five hits and two earned runs. He also struck out six and walked two.
The Longhorns return to action March 24 in a non-region game at San Tan Foothills in Queen Creek. Game time is 4 p.m.