A screwy power points system and a 15-9 loss to Show Low squashed the Payson Longhorns’ dreams of advancing to the 3A state baseball tournament.
The defeat to SL was incurred May 1 in a battle for third place in the East regional tournament.
With the win, Show Low advances to state as the East tournament bronze medalist and a No. 15 seed. The Cougars open the tournament May 7 in Surprise against No. 2 Safford.
Even with the loss to Show Low, the Longhorns could have advanced to state via the power points route.
That course closed, however, when lowly Parker (2-14), which was ranked 27th among the 3A’s 28 teams, earned a state berth by finishing among the top three finishers in the West division tournament.
The Broncos inclusion into the tournament meant the Longhorns, even though they were rated 16th in power points (74.2857), were denied a state tournament berth.
Rendering the power points system even more mystifying is that Show Low (72.1429) was also ranked (19th place) below Payson.
Cougar coach David Nikolaus knew early on the Horns vs. SL clash was for all the marbles, “I figured the game Saturday was do or die for both of us.”
In the state playoff and power points system, the top three teams from each of the four regional tournaments advance to the state tournament, as well as four at-large teams based on power points.
The at-large teams were No. 5 Florence (92.8571 power points), No. 9 Wickenburg (85), No. 11 Empire (82.1429), and No. 14 Globe (77.5).
Since the Longhorns did not meet either criteria of a regional tournament third-place finish or power points, the only state action the players will enjoy is from bleacher seats.
Meanwhile, a Parker team that accumulated only 47.5 points and two regular season victories will advance to the state tournament.
Horns post 1-2 tourney record
Payson opened the regular season ending East regional tournament April 27 with a 28-0 thumping of Alchesay.
In the second round, on April 29, the Horns lost 8-5 to the homestanding Snowflake Lobos. That defeat set up Payson’s Payson’s battle against Show Low with the winner reaping the spoils of a state playoff berth.
Although the Longhorns delighted the home fans early, jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, the Cougars roared backed with five runs in the second.
The two teams continued to swap narrow cushions before SL scored three runs in the fifth and two in the seventh to nail down the hard-earned win.
Early on, the clash turned into a hitting fest with the Cougars pounding 18 hits and the Longhorns recording 11 base knocks.
On the mound for Payson, Keaton Duran went 4-1/3 innings giving up 11 hits and nine earned runs. Sean Dougherty went two frames allowing six hits and one run. Jake Sleeper pitched 2/3 of an inning.
Offensively the Horns generated enough firepower to win most games, but this time around Show Low was a bit more explosive.
For Payson, Ever Figueroa, Weston Gibson and Dakota Marshall hit home runs off Show Low’s Tyler Adams.
Sleeper and Figueroa were 3-for-4 at the plate and Gibson had three RBIs and a double to go along with his circuit blast.
Some honors still possible
With 2010 diamond wars at an end, all that remains for Longhorn players is the naming of the All-East region team and later down the road the all-state team. Seniors are also eligible to participate in the Arizona Baseball Coaches Association North vs. South All-Star game when it is played in June.