Jake Sleeper (#1) rips a base hit during a home game vs. Show Low. He is currently hitting .325 in the Horn offensive attack.
Photo by Andy Towle.
Payson opened the Wolves Classic baseball tournament with a 14-13 win over Buckeye Verrado, but couldn’t again stir up the winning formula.
Following the victory, Payson dropped three consecutive tournament games, losing to Chino Valley, 9-3; Fountain Hills, 10-5 and El Mirage Dysart, 15-9.
If there is any good news in the 1-3 tournament record it is that the three losses will not adversely affect the East region standings or have any bearing on the Horns’ goal of earning a season-ending state tournament berth.
That’s because the losses were all non-region games.
The Horns remain 3-2 in the East and in third place behind region-leading Blue Ridge (4-0) and second-place Snowflake (4-1).
The struggles that sidetracked the Horns in the Classic can be attributed to a season-long problem — errors.
In the loss to Dysart, Payson players committed five errors. Against Verado, PHS was saddled with six miscues and vs. Fountain Hills, the Horns were cited for two boo-boos. Against Chino, Payson had three errors.
While the faux pas are tough to deal with, the Horn effort in the Classic did include several highlights, including a 12-hit attack against Verrado.
Ever Figueroa was red hot with three hits, three runs scored and four RBIs. One of his hits was a round-trip ticket.
Westin Gibson and Dakota Marshall also went yard.
Jake Sleeper and Gibson shared pitching duties with Gibson, who rarely pitches, picking up the win.
Against Dysart, Horn hitters slugged 12 hits, including five doubles, only to be outdone by the Demons’ 19 base knocks.
For PHS, Chance Randall, Marshall and Figueroa all had two hits each.
Sean Dougherty hurled five innings and Juan Machado pitched for two with Dougherty being cited for the loss.
Payson’s effort was highlighted by Sleeper’s three-hit performance that included two doubles, two runs scored and an RBI.
Figueroa was 2-for-4.
Zack Blazer hurled four innings giving up eight hits and seven earned runs. Figueroa pitched two complete frames, allowing two earned runs.
The Horns return to non-region action today, April 6 at Fountain Hills and on Friday, April 9, jump back into the fire of the East title chase taking on Blue Ridge in Lakeside.