The ball didn’t reach freshman first baseman Nick McMullen (18) in time to get this Show Low base runner out. In the crucial East contest played April 6, the Cougars took an early 4-0 lead only to see Payson score the tying and winning runs in the bottom of the seventh.
In a show of power that rivals the Murderer’s Row onslaughts of the 1927 New York Yankees, Fountain Hills’ sluggers pounded seven home runs in a 20-8 win over the homestanding Payson Longhorns.
“I think I saw people across the street from the field boarding up their windows to protect their houses,” PHS coach Scott Novack said of the barrage.
“I’m glad I don’t live over there.”
While the game ended in a rout, it was actually closely fought early on. At the end of four innings it was tied 5-5 and it seemed the outcome could go in either team’s favor.
But, “The top of the fifth was a circus,” said Novack. “Andrew Fett hit a leadoff homer, we had two errors.”
By the time the dust settled, the Falcons had pounded out seven hits, including Bryce Greager’s second homer of the day. Four of Fountain Hills’ seven round trip tickets were punched in the inning.
“It was a good high school game for four innings, but they usually go seven (innings),” said Novack. “We have to have all parts of the game click together against good teams.
“That really hasn’t happened yet this year.”
The demise of the Horns vs. FH, might be attributed to a lack of pitching depth that turned evident after the team wore out a bevy of pitchers during the five games of the Wolves Invitational Tournament March 31 to April 2.
“We ran out of pitching,” said Novack.
Zack Blazer got the start against FH only to give up a single and home run to the first three batters he faced.
“He then settled down and got three of the next four (hitters),” the coach said.
In the bottom of the first, Jake Sleeper got aboard on a single and Chance Randall — on a one-two count with two outs — drove a pitch over the right center field fence to close the Falcon lead to 3-2.
In the third, Blazer allowed a run on a walk and a double, but in the bottom of the frame, Payson rallied to take a 5-4 lead.
Big hits in the inning were Westin Gibson’s triple and Chance Randall’s double.
The Horns one-run lead, however, was short-lived as FH scored another run in the fourth off Blazer to tie up the game at 5-5.
From that inning on, the game was all Fountain Hills as Falcon hitters, “Put on an offensive show that we are used to putting on,” said Novack.
The pitching line shows Blazer hurled 4-1/3 innings giving up nine runs, eight hits and three walks. He struck out four and two of the runs scored against him were unearned.
Dylan Richardson relieved for half an inning and was touched for four hits, and seven runs, five of which were earned.
Wade Hunsaker was last to be called upon for fireman’s duty and allowed four runs, one of which was earned, three hits and one walk.
Offensively, Gibson was 2-for-3 and might have been perfect had not the Fountain Hills center fielder flagged down a hard hit line drive at the fence.
Chance Randall turned in a banner day with three hits, two of which were home runs, and four RBIs in four appearances.
The Horns return to action today, April 8, vs. the visiting Blue Ridge Yellow Jackets.
Varsity game time is 7 p.m.