The Longhorn baseball team survived a four-error outing to edge a very good Snowflake Lobo team 6-4 in a showdown of two longtime small-town Arizona rivals.
On March 12 in Snowflake, the Horns were able to survive the miscues with a nine-hit attack and standout relief pitching from Nick McMullen who entered the game in the bottom of the third with bases loaded and one out.
Throwing with all the determination of Mariano Rivera, McMullen set the side down without giving up another run.
Gunner Goodman had started on the mound and hurled 2-1/3 innings before suffering control problems and giving up two third-inning runs.
Thanks to McMullen’s relief help, the Horns escaped the third inning with the score tied 3-3.
“That inning changed the game,” said coach Brian Young. “They had the potential to really jump out on us and to get out of that jam was absolutely a game saver.”
McMullen continued on the mound, pitching four full innings, allowing two hits and one run. He walked one and struck out four.
McMullen’s performance drew Young’s praise, “He throws from three-quarters to side arm and the ball is very hard to pick up.
“Plus, he is 6-foot, 5-inches and throws hard.”
With one out in the bottom of the seventh, Dailey Carnes came on in relief of McMullen and picked up the save. In his short tenure, Carnes K’d Snowflake’s best hitter, Josh Kelley, and induced the following batter to pop up.
While the pitching was for the most part stellar, the Horns struggled defensively with the four errors.
“But they weren’t the common type errors you would expect,” said Young. “They were things like not catching the ball at a base or the first baseman pulling his foot.
It’s an area we need to continue to improve.”
While the coach lamented the mistakes, he had plenty of praise for catcher Tyus Sarnowski.
“He continues to do good things like throwing behind a runner at first base to pick him off,” said Young. “Those are huge outs vs. a very aggressive base running team like Snowflake.”
Offensively, the Horns flourished on the bats of the 3-4-5 hitters in the lineup including a 2-for-4 effort from Tyus Sarnowski that included a double, triple and two RBIs.
McMullen was 2-for-3, Konner Duran 2-for-4 and Carnes 1-for-3.
With the win, the Horns improve to 7-1 overall and find themselves running with the big dogs in Division III including River Valley (10-1-1), Fountain Hills (10-1), Mingus (7-1) and Wilcox (7-1).
This season, Payson has outscored opponents by a whopping 78-37 margin.