After watching his Longhorn baseball team rally back from a 10-1 deficit to edge Camp Verde 11-10, first year coach Brian Young could only utter, “Crazy game.”
Certainly it was a bit nutsy, as the Horns fell behind 7-0 after the first inning and trailed by nine in the third.
Just when the situation looked dismal, the Longhorns jumpstarted a Silky Sullivan-like comeback to race back into contention
At the end of four frames, the Horns pulled to within 10-3 and in the fifth closed the score to 10-6.
Neither team scored in the sixth inning setting up the dramatic seventh and final inning with Payson trailing by four runs.
In the top of the inning, Payson rallied for four runs to take its first lead of the game.
The inning opened with Nick McMullen stroking a ground rule double and Konner Duran getting hit by a pitch. Ruben Estrada and Taran Sarnowski then singled and Miguel Mendoza walked.
After David Evans bunted the runners into scoring position at second and third, Dailey Carnes knocked in both the tying and game winning runs.
With the precarious one run lead, Longhorn pitching and defense rose to the challenge to shut out the Cowboys in the bottom of the seventh and salvage the most unlikely of comeback wins.
In looking back on the “W”, Young recalls, “We started very slowly and Camp Verde came out of fire.
“I have not seen any of our pitchers get hit as hard as they did against CV.”
If, however, there was something good to come out of the dire straits the Horns faced early against Camp Verde it was learning how to overcome adversity.
“There is nothing worse than being down 10-1 on the road, but the guys absolutely did not quit,” Young said. “It was great to see them pull together as a team. It would have been easy to roll over and die but they didn’t do that,” Young said.
Offensively in the “W”, Payson pounded out 11 hits, nine of which came in the final four innings.
Individually, Taran Sarnowski pulled off his finest Ken Griffey Jr. imitation, finishing 2-for-4, with a double, three RBI’s and two runs scored.
“He finally had the break out game we were waiting for from him,” Young said.
Ruben Estrada also finished with two hits. Carnes was 2-for-4 with two RBI’s and a run scored.
On the hill, normally steady Miguel Mendoza started, but was hit hard by Cowboy batsmen.
“We switched pitchers early because we had everybody available due to it being the only game of the week,” said Young. “We went to Nick (McMullen) in the first inning and there was more contact off of him than I have seen all year.”
Eventually McMullen found his groove and over the final four innings gave up only two hits in shutting our CV. Of the 20 outs McMullen recorded, 16 were via ground balls.
“It was huge for us to finally get the bleeding stopped so we could starting chipping way on the comeback,” said Young.
Officially, McMullen was credited with the win after pitching 6 2/3 innings giving up three earned runs and seven hits while striking out two and walking one.
Defensively, Longhorn players made some throwing errors but managed to convert 16 ground balls into outs.
“I couldn’t be happier about that,” said Young.
Baseball action resumes today, Tuesday, April 2, on PHS field against Mogollon. Game time is 5 p.m.