Only two days after pulling off the biggest upset in recent Little League history by run-ruling powerful Chandler National, the Payson Little League Junior All-Stars dropped a heartbreaking 10-7 decision to Goodyear.
Playing in the third round of the state tournament last evening, July 19 at Prescott High School, the Payson Stars loaded the bases in the top of the seventh and with the tying run on at first and the winning run at the plate, seemed to be on the edge of a last-gasp, game-winning rally.
But with two outs, the Payson batter went down on strikes to end the team’s hopes of advancing to the final four as an unbeaten team.
The loss was Payson’s first in the postseason that included Area 1, District 1 and the state tournaments.
All-Star coach Tony McNeeley attributed the gut-wrenching loss to a lack of offense.
“We just didn’t hit the ball like we have been.”
That was painfully obvious in the final score that revealed the Stars were held to just seven runs when the team has won every postseason game by 10 or more runs.
McNeeley, however, believes a win was within reach. “(The score) was close all the way, it was a good game and (the outcome) came down to the last pitch.”
In the defeat, David Estrada started on the hill and hurled five innings before being relieved by David Evans.
Because the state tournament is double elimination, Payson remains in contention for the program’s first-ever state crown, but to do so it must battle back through the losers bracket. The first step in staging a comeback is to win at 8 p.m. tomorrow, July 21, at Prescott High against the winner of a Paradise Valley vs. Western game to be played today at Payson High School.