The Payson Longhorn baseball team’s quest for a postseason berth could hinge on the outcome of an East Region showdown today, April 20, vs. the visiting Round Valley Elks.
A win would not only boost the Longhorns (4-5 and 9-15) power point total, but also keep the team in the running for an advantageous berth into the East regional tournament when it is played April 27, 29 and May 1 at the home site of the highest seed.
Game time today is 3:30 p.m. on PHS field.
In the Horns’ most recent games, April 16 at Snowflake and the following day in Eagar vs. Round Valley, the team staged a Jekyll and Hyde performance being run-ruled 10-0 by the Lobos, but doing an about-face whipping the Elks 4-1.
In the loss to Snowflake, the Lobos led 3-0 at the end of two frames and then tacked on seven in the top of the third to salt away the victory.
Sean Dougherty started on the hill and hurled two complete innings before giving way to Keaton Duran who hurled the final three.
Dougherty was torched for nine runs, four earned, and six hits. He was saddled with the loss.
Duran pitched well, giving up a double and a single while striking out three.
Offensively, the Longhorns went down without a whimper as Lobo hurler Nolan Hatch hurled a no-hitter facing just three over the minimum 15 batters. Hatch struck out six and walked three.
His performance was slightly reminiscent of another Nolan — Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan
Against Round Valley, the Horns scored three runs in a second-inning uprising and then added on an insurance tally in the fourth to coast to the win.
Dakota Marshall kept the Elks at bay, giving up just four hits in seven complete innings. He also struck out five and walked one.
Michael Fritz scored RV’s only run on an RBI single by Cade Mortensen.
Marshall’s contributions to the “W” were not limited to his mound duties — the lanky senior right-hander also stroked a single and scored two runs in two plate appearances.
Justin Powers was 1-for-3 with two RBIs.
In all, the Horns pounded out six base hits against RV pitching.
Ever Figueroa, who has appeared in all 24 games this season, now leads the Longhorns in hitting with a .457 average.
Westin Gibson is second on the team at .438 including seven doubles, four triples and 22 RBIs.
Marshall (.343) is the team RBI leader with 24 and first in home runs with three.
Chance Randall is hitting at the magical .300 mark with six doubles and 16 RBIs.
Following today’s game, Payson wraps up the regular season April 23 on the PHS diamond vs. Fountain Hills.
The two teams met earlier this season, on April 2 in the Wolves Classic, with FH taking a 10-5 victory.
While the game is not an East Region encounter, a PHS victory would improve the Longhorns power point standing.
While the Longhorns might not make state the power points route, the team could earn a 3A berth by finishing among the top three in the region tournament. That would qualify the squad for the 3A state tournament to begin May 7 in Surprise.