After going 1-2 in the Fountain Hills Invitational the previous week, Payson’s baseball team opened at home against Cottonwood Mingus on Thursday looking to shake off a pair of one-run losses.
Instead, the Longhorns were left shaking their heads as Marauders’ pitchers combined on a two-hit shutout. Mingus’ 4-0 victory dropped PHS to 1-3 overall in the season’s first power points game. Taran Sarnowski had both Payson hits.
“We just didn’t hit for the first time this season,” said head coach Brian Young. “The lack of hitting was obviously disappointing because our offense has so much potential. We kind of picked up where we left off at the end of the Winslow game the week before where it seemed like nothing was dropping in for us and every ball they hit just seemed to find a hole.”
Tyus Sarnowski pitched the first 4 2/3 innings before Dailey Carnes came on and hurled 2 1/3 hitless innings of relief.
“I thought Tyus did a pretty good job,” Young said. “If we are a little tougher behind him then we are probably right in position to win the game with a run or two. When things are not bouncing your way, you can’t afford to make any mistakes defensively and we did. So that was really the difference for us.
“Dailey looked very strong and will be an asset for us as a starting pitcher or coming in relief to keep a team down.”
The skipper said the unexpected early struggles left his players tight.
“You can tell the guys are pressing a little bit because they all have put in the work and they want to see good results,” Young said. “There is no panic in our dugout, but a little bit of urgency to really show what we can do.”
Payson 11, Morenci 1
One day after being limited to two hits in a shutout at home, the Longhorn bats smacked the ball all over the park, collecting 16 hits in an 11-1 five-inning mercy-rule win at Morenci on Friday.
“We didn’t ask for the long trip to Morenci, that was a gift to us from the AIA when they filled a hole on our schedule that we had originally reserved for Page,” Young said. “But it may have been a blessing in disguise. Sometimes when you are struggling a little bit it helps to get away. Guys were stuck in vans together for the trip with their teammates and less distractions than playing close to home. This trip came at the right time for us so that guys could pull together a little bit.
“There is always the concern that after a long trip, guys may not get out of the vans and be ready to play. But that certainly wasn’t the case for us. We started strong scoring three runs in each of the first two innings and kept rolling from there.”
PHS lined four doubles among six extra-base hits. Nick McMullen was 3-for-3 with a triple, a double, two RBIs and two runs. Jorden Landress went 3-for-4. Dailey Carnes was 2-for-2 with two RBIs and three runs and Konner Druan belted a home run.
“It was a big ball park and we were able to put some balls in gaps,” the coach said. “Finally you got to see the whole offensive side of our game come together and hopefully this game just gets us rolling.” The Longhorns committed just one error behind starter Miguel Mendoza, who pitched all five innings, scattering five hits and striking out five without issuing a walk.
“Defensively, we were much stronger,” Young said. “Miguel was very efficient, only throwing 56 pitches. Miguel is a bulldog on the mound.”
PHS travels to Camp Verde for a 2 p.m. game today before entertaining Show Low at 4:30 p.m. Thursday (JV at 2).