The Payson High School baseball team will be buoyed in the 2013 Division III state tournament by a player Arizona Sports Network’s “Coach Pichotta” predicted last spring will “be a dominant force as he moves forward.”
Only a junior, Nick McMullen is already setting big-time marks that are garnering the attention of coaches and pundits around the state.
At the plate this season, McMullen is hitting .529 and wrapped up the regular season as the D-III home run leader with 11 homers.
His HR blasts are characteristically boomers that draw oohs and aahs from the crowd.
Obviously a gifted hitter, McMullen also shines on defense as a first baseman, outfielder and pitcher.
Although he didn’t pitch last season due to an arm strain, McMullen returned to the mound March 12 in a 6-4 win over Snowflake.
In the hard-fought game that could have gone either way, Coach Brian Young called on McMullen to relieve in the third inning with one out and the bases jam-packed with Lobo base runners.
McMullen rose up to pitch his way out of the jam without giving up a run and went on to finish four complete innings, giving up two hits while striking out four and walking one.
As good as McMullen is, he’s not the only thoroughbred in the Longhorn corral.
Offensively, Daily Carnes is hitting .389, Gunner Goodman sports a .337 mean, Ruben Estrada is hitting at a .342 clip and Miguel Mendoza has a .325 average.
As a team the Horns are hitting a very respectable .334 — getting on base one out of every three at-bats.
Once on the base paths, the Horns pose a serious threat, as evidenced by the 69 stolen bases in 72 attempts. In thefts, Carnes is 14-for-14, McMullen 11-for-11 and Mendoza 8-for-9.
Mendoza has also been the team’s pitching ace most of the year, taking to state a 6-2 record with a 4.09 ERA. McMullen is 3-2 with a 3.87 ERA in eight appearances.
Carnes has been the team’s fireman in relief, going into the game in the late innings when the chips are down to that precious final few. In a team-high 12 appearances, he has a 4.34 ERA and is 1-1.
Tyus Sarnowski has also turned in several outstanding pitching efforts in the 27 innings he’s been on the hill.
Seeing the current PHS team do well on the diamond is nothing unusual for Payson fans who have been admiring their play since several of the current players were members of Little League Major Division All-Stars that came within a whisper in 2006 of winning the state championship.