Longhorns Stumble, Fumble; Coach Fumes

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To declare Payson High School second-year baseball coach Scott Novack upset is an understatement.

“I’m a little ticked at the lack of discipline on my team,” The coach said following an 8-6 loss on March 15 to the homestanding Blue Ridge Yellow Jackets.

Continuing to fume, Novack sorted through the maladies that plagued the Longhorn effort, “Lack of execution and screwing up signs cost us in a close game again.

“As for plate discipline, we struck out a season-high eight times, blew two great opportunities to bunt runs in when we weren’t hitting the ball, had at least two major base running errors and generally had poor at bats until late in the game.”

As gut-wrenching as the performance was, the coach did find some solace in the efforts of first baseman-outfielder Nick McMullen, saying, “He did have great at bats all night.”

Among his hits was one of the oddest to occur in high school baseball lore.

“He literally hit one through the Blue Ridge fence for a ground rule double,” said Novack. “Not under (the fence) but through the middle of the fence.”

Wow, any fan alert enough to catch that on camera, would have a great post for YouTube.

In the loss, Payson trailed 8-2 in the top of the sixth, but rallied to close it to 8-4 and give themselves a chance to salvage a “W.” In the seventh and final frame, the Horns pulled to within 8-6 and hopes for a rally were rampant with a runner on at third and the tying run at first.

All hopes to pull into a tie, however, were extinguished when Payson’s runner at first was picked off for the game-ending third out.

Ouch, that had to hurt.

Game-ending statistics reveal Blue Ridge stroked eight hits and struck out six times.

Conversely, Payson had six hits and K’d on eight occasions.

“We did hit some balls hard that were caught, but that is too many strikeouts, especially when you throw in the lack of execution,” Novack said.

Miguel Mendoza started on the hill and gave way in the fourth to Tyus Sarnowski, who, Novack said, “Threw well and kept us close enough to give us an opportunity to win.”

Following the loss, Novack and fellow coaches sat down for a heart to heart talk with players in which the need for discipline and steady play was stressed.

“We put up some big numbers at times, but not consistently,” Novack said. “We pitch well, but not consistently and we played good ‘D’ at times but not consistently.”

We get the picture, coach.

The Horns return to action today, March 20 in Snowflake. Game time is 3:30 p.m.

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