Miscues End Horn Hopes In St. Johns

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Errors are the bane of every baseball coach, often turning noggin hair gray, thinning and attenuated.

Which means Longhorn varsity coach Jerry Daniels could be in need of a hairpiece if his players continue to perform defensively as they did in a 9-5 March 17 loss to homestanding St. Johns.

After watching his team commit a whopping seven errors in the defeat, Daniels said, “We made all kinds of errors, hit five batters and walked two runs in — it was a disaster.”

Had the Horns not committed the miscues, Payson (4-5 overall, 1-0 in the East) would have probably returned home with a “W” partly because the Horns outhit the Redskins 9-6 and had an early 3-2 lead.

The Redskins, however, tied up the game with a single run in the bottom of the third and then took a 5-3 lead an inning later.

St. Johns then scored four runs in the sixth, thanks in part to Payson’s errors, and erased any doubt which team would emerge victorious.

For the game, Jake Sleeper and Keaton Duran shared pitching duties. Sleeper went 2-2/3 innings, giving up four runs on three hits. None of the runs, however, were earned.

Duran hurled 3-1/3 frames allowing five runs, two of which were earned, on three hits.

Sleeper struck out three with two hit batters and a wild pitch. Duran hit three batters.

Offensively, Westin Gibson, Edwin Estrada and Chance Randall had two hits each. Estrada applied the power with a triple among his hits and Chance Randall pounded a two-bagger.

Kyle Randall contributed two RBIs.

If anything good can be said about the disheartening loss, it is the defeat was not to an East member, meaning it does not affect the region standings or Payson’s opportunities to earn a postseason tournament berth.

PHS was to return to play March 19 against Alchesay, but that game was postponed just days prior.

“They called to say they only had seven players,” said PHS AD Jason Lobik.

Because the game is an East clash, region rules say it is to be made up, but even that is in doubt.

“I don’t know if it will be or if we’ll even play the game on Friday (March 26 vs. Alchesay),” Daniels said. “We just don’t know if they will have (enough) players.”

With that game in a limbo, Payson travels to Eagar-Springerville today (March 23) to take on East rival Round Valley.

The Elks will be out to end a four-game losing streak that includes 23-0 and 13-1 losses to Blue Ridge. The bugle boys have also fallen 13-4 to Show Low, a Cougar team Payson nipped 7-6.

Despite RV’s less than stellar record, the team does have some good players in Dalton Charles, Jonny Slade and Michael Fritz.

Charles is hitting .481, Slade hits at a .532 clip, and Fritz is carrying a .500 mark with a team-high 10 RBIs.

If the Elks have an offensive weakness it could be patience and discipline at the plate — RV batters have struck out 48 times this season.

Payson must also defend the base paths as Elk runners have been successful on 15 of 16 theft attempts.

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