Baseball V Blue Ridge Home Plate Collision

Hunter Harold can’t avoid sliding into the Blue Ridge pitcher as he scores the final run in a 15-5 five-inning mercy win by the Longhorns on March 27. Payson carried a 10-game winning streak and the No. 2 ranking in 3A into Thursday’s game against San Tan Foothills. The Longhorns host No. 5 Snowflake in a 3A East battle at 6 p.m. tonight.

Alex Mastin and two other Longhorns combined on a three-hit shutout as Payson’s top-ranked baseball team beat host Holbrook 10-0 in five innings for its 10th consecutive victory.

With the win, Payson improved to 6-0 in the 3A East, two games ahead of second-place Snowflake (4-2). The Lobos are ranked No. 5 in the 3A. The teams meet in Payson at 6 p.m. Friday.

Despite another victory, Payson (11-1) watched Chandler Valley Christian (11-1) leap frog the Longhorns in Wednesday’s 3A rankings. The Longhorns slid to No. 2. One win over the No. 32 Roadrunners simply didn’t help Payson as much as the three wins the Trojans posted over No. 6 Yuma Catholic, No. 22 Fountain Hills and No. 12 Paradise Honors since the previous rankings.

Still, Payson has faced a tougher schedule than Valley Christian, according to the rankings.

But it really doesn’t matter which team is No. 1. All the Longhorns need to worry about is winning.

And that’s something they’ve been very good at this season.

They haven’t lost a game that counts in the power points rankings (non-tournament games) since falling for the only time against Scottsdale Christian on March 5.

The Longhorns managed a shutout and didn’t commit an error despite a challenging wind in Holbrook.

“It was horrible conditions to hit in,” said Payson coach Brian Young. “The wind was blowing straight back at the batter, and balls that were hit hard went absolutely nowhere. We worked hard to get our runs and finish off the game.”

Jesse Conway pitched the first inning, striking out the side. He didn’t allow a hit and walked one. River Phillips worked the second inning without a allowing a hit or a walk and struck out the side. Mastin scattered three hits and struck out two over the final three innings. He didn’t walk anyone, but hit a batter.

“Our pitching was very strong,” Young said. “Jesse and River both looked good. It was a little bit of an in-game bullpen session for each and both had multiple strikeouts in their inning. Alex came in and was very good for us.”

RJ Butler went 3-for-3 with three RBIs to lead Payson’s nine-hit attack. Payson also drew seven walks. River Phillips singled and drove in two.

Payson was scheduled to play in their annual game at Salt River Fields At Talking Stick at 3 p.m. Thursday against San Tan Foothills (read story at payson.com).

After tonight’s game against Snowflake, the Longhorns host No. 9 Show Low in another 3A East game at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.

Contact the reporter at kmorris@payson.com

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