It was top of the seventh and the Mingus Union baseball team was leading Payson High School 16-12, but Payson was making a comeback, scoring seven runs over the last two innings, while Mingus hadn't scored any.
Payson hit the ball, got out and as another run was coming into home plate, catcher Robert Valentine stepped in front of the runner as the ball was coming to him.
Payson slid as Robert caught the ball and went for the tag out, his ninth of the game and iced the contest,a big win this late in the season.
"We had opportunities [to end the game early], but they did a good job, they swing the bat well and they have a good team," said head coach Bob Young. "They kept themselves in the game and they got back in it."
This was the teams first meeting of the season, pitting two of the top-10 teams in Division-III against each other.
Coming into the contest, Payson was ranked No. 5 in D-III, with the Marauders sitting two spots behind them.
Both teams knew the importance of the game with the playoffs looming and the level of play showed it.
"It was a big win, it was crucial," said Tyler Herndon. "They are ahead of us in the power points, they were ahead of us, I think we are going to be ahead now, but it was definitely a big win for us. They're a good team, they played hard, but we just came back and won."
Payson was on the board first after two runs scored in the first inning, but the Marauders answered back with four runs of their own.
"I just kind of put it out of my mind, but once he hit the second one (home run) on me, that's when I started to get really frustrated, but other than that, I just kept it out of my mind," said Austin Zwart about recovering from getting a home run hit against him.
Tom McCarty was first to get on base with a bunt and Robert was walked. Next up was Tyler Herndon, who nailed a double and brought Tom in. Slugger Austin Zwart stepped up to the plate and on his sixth pitch, sent the ball soaring in between left and center field, going over the fence, his ninth home run of the season.
When Payson stepped up to the plate again, Mingus forced them to go three-and-out. What followed was, as one of the Payson fans put it, "the longest inning ever."
"Our first, I think four innings, it was just a replay of Monday," Young said. "We're just locked in right now. We're seeing the ball really well; we're having really good approaches to the plate. I'm really happy with that."
The Marauders scored eight runs through 10 at-bats and the Payson faithful were shocked this was happening to their team.
Over the next two innings, Mingus would go on to score four more runs, being up by as many as 11, before Payson began its comeback.
Austin began the game on the mound for Mingus. Payson's Nick McMullen hit a home run in the first inning, but Austin was able to shake it off. As the game wore on, the junior began missing his pitches and in the fifth inning, Nick McMullen nailed another home run and Austin was not able to recover from that.
Payson went on to bring in six runs during the fifth inning, narrowing the score and forcing Young to replace Austin with Tyler.
"I wasn't getting tired; I was getting frustrated because I wasn't hitting my spots like I should have been," Austin said.
The Mingus slugger ended his run on the mound with a 10.50 ERA, but six of the 11 runs he allowed were during the fifth inning and only seven runs were earned. Austin struck out seven Longhorns and walked three, while facing 27 batters.
"I told Austin, I thought he made about three mistakes pitching and they hurt him on that, but other than that he pitched a good game," Young said. "Then Tyler came in, and Tyler hasn't really pitched all year because of arm problems, and he came in and shut them down, and that's what we need him to do."
Tyler came in with one out remaining in the fifth and quickly put a stop to Payson's surge. The Marauders would not score any more runs for the game, but with strong defense and a fresh pitcher, were able to only allow one run in the sixth inning and none in the seventh to win the contest.
"You have to focus on the task at hand [when coming in as a relief pitcher]," Tyler said. "I haven't pitched in awhile and it was really good to get back out there and get more into it and shut them out and close them out ... I think I did good. It was my first time pitching in awhile, hopefully I can get back to starting pitching, but for now I'm just a relief, kind of nursing my arm and stuff, but ill be fine, ill be good."
Tyler was making his second appearance as pitcher this season. and in his return, he threw three strike outs, one walk and allowed three hits and one run against 10 batters, ending the game with a 3.00 ERA. He also batted .500 on 2-for-4 hitting with a double and a RBI.
"I'm starting to come around. I was slumping for a little while, but for the past three or four games ... I've been doing really well and just got my mind back to where it should have been and hopefully it keeps on going," Tyler said.
Francisco Pacheco and Marshall Shill were both a perfect 1-for-1. Both seniors hit doubles and Francisco tallied and RBI. Austin finished 4-for-5 at the plate with a double and four RBI's to go along with his home run. As a team, Mingus finished with a .543 batting average and 19 hits through 35 at bats.
The Marauders return to the field today to host the Coconino Panthers at 3:30 p.m. and Young believes that the loss to Camp Verde helped something click with the boys.
"We're playing. I think that Camp Verde game was a wake-up call and got these guys' attention, that they just can't show up," Young said. "They've got to be locked in mentally and we'll see. We might comeback Friday and lay a goose egg, but right now they're doing the things we need them to do."