Teams always want to win.
But a loss on April 8 won’t break your season.
Well, it shouldn’t. Not if you enter the game as the No. 5 team in the Division 3 state power rankings like Payson did Tuesday.
So the fact that Winslow, which was No. 10 in the power rankings, beat the Longhorns 7-2 at Payson is something PHS should survive.
PHS dropped to No. 6 in the power rankings by Wednesday morning as its record slipped to 10-6 overall, 6-3 in power points games and 2-1 in the Section 5 standings. It was Winslow’s first section contest. The Bulldogs improved to 8-5 in power points games and moved up to No. 8 in the rankings.
Brian Young is confident his players will get back to playing the way they did in a seven-game winning streak snapped by Division 2 Buckeye Verrado 4-1 in the semifinals of the Goodyear Estrella Foothills Wolves Classic on Saturday.
“We haven’t peaked yet, which is a good thing because we want that to happen around the start of the state tournament,” the skipper said. “Losing can be very motivating and I think our guys will respond well and be ready to get back on the field Friday at Snowflake and Saturday at home vs. Camp Verde.”
Payson started strong as Miguel Mendoza and his defense retired the Bulldogs in order and the Longhorns scored twice in the bottom of the first on a two-run double by Dailey Carnes.
But Winslow shut the home team out over the final six innings.
And the Bulldogs wasted no time answering Payson’s two-run first by pushing six runs across the plate with two outs in the top of the second. Winslow had three hits, four walks and an error in the inning, with six consecutive hitters reaching with two outs. The Bulldogs added a run in the fifth.
“Unfortunately, we just didn’t keep that momentum going,” Young said of the first inning. “And we had a rough second inning.
“I thought Miguel had a nice night with the exception of the second inning. He ran into some control issues with his only four walks of the night coming in the second inning. The difference between them going out and getting a few runs and it turning into a huge inning is making a couple of errors. Our defense was strong the whole game except for one inning. Winslow is a really good team and giving them any extra chances is going to cause trouble.”
Mendoza allowed six hits, walked four and struck out eight Bulldogs in six innings before Nick McMullen pitched the seventh, surrendering one hit and fanning two. Payson committed two errors.
Payson had six hits. Carnes led the way with a pair of doubles and drove in both runs.
“Other than that, we didn’t hit a lot,” Young said. “We did leave eight men on base, which is a similar problem we had against Verrado on Saturday. We are getting guys on but just not bearing down enough to drive them in.”