The Snowflake Lobos, who once dominated Payson in most every prep sport, were on the receiving end of a good old-fashioned rear-end kicking in the Horn baseball team’s 16-0 victory.
While the triumph was a complete team effort, as coaches love to say refusing to single out individual players, much of the credit for the “W” must go to Jake Sleeper.
The senior right-hander received the starting nod from coach Scott Novack and responded with a pitching gem.
In going the distance, six innings, he allowed only two hits, walked just one and struck out six Lobo batsmen.
At the plate he was 4-for-5 with two doubles and four RBIs.
Ryan Rislund also had a good day with the bat finishing 2-for-2 with three runs scored and an RBI. Rislund was also on base all four times he batted.
Edwin Estrada was 2-for-3 with two runs scored.
While the East Region clash eventually turned into a blowout, it was much closer early on. In the top of the fourth, the Horns led just 1-0 and were scratching for offense.
But in the inning, Chance Randall and Nick McMullen opened the frame with walks. Edwin Estrada then singled to load the bases and Dylan Richardson walked to push a run home.
Cale Novack’s sacrifice fly to center scored McMullen while Estrada tagged up on the catch to advance to third.
With runners at the corners, Rislund laid down a base hit bunt the coach is calling “perfect.” It brought Estrada home from third.
The Lobo throw on the bunt went awry into right field allowing Richardson to score and Rislund advance to third.
Juan Machado then lashed a sacrifice fly to centerfield that scored Rislund and lifted the Payson lead to 6-0.
In the top of the sixth, the Horns staged another rally that put the game out of Snowflake’s reach.
Big hits of the inning were a double from Machado and a pair of two baggers from the red-hot Sleeper. Also in the frame, Cale Novack, Westin Gibson and Chance Randall singled.
Following that inning, the coach said, “it was pretty much over.”
For the game, Payson lashed Lobo pitching for nine hits, drew seven walks and struck out only once.
Defensively, the Horns turned in one of their finer efforts committing just one error.
According to Arizona Interscholastic Association standings, the Horns are now all alone in second place in the East Region standings with a 7-2 record. At 7-0, Blue Ridge is sitting in first.
Show Low is 5-2 and third.
In AIA power points, the Horns have moved up to third behind first place Blue Ridge and second-ranked Fountain Hills.
Payson travels tomorrow, April 20, to Fountain Hills to take on the Falcons in a non-region showdown to be played at Fountain Hills Middle School.