Raptor Field in Ogden will have a decidedly Utah County feel next week.
The only 4A teams still waiting to be stung with a loss in the state tournament all come from the Provo-Orem area.Thursday in Murray, it was Payson doing its part in the Region 6 sweep as it knocked off Region 5 champ Murray 5-1.
"Our goal is just to get to Franklin Quest (for the state final four)" said Payson coach Scott Haney.
The Lions are just one win away from that trip thanks to the win over the Spartans.
Corey Hansen scattered eight Spartan hits, but allowed only the one run in the first inning to pick up the win for the Lions who made the most of their offensive opportunities.
Payson got only five hits but got them at all the right times.
After trailing 1-0 going into the third, Payson took advantage of a rare bad pitch from Murray's Ben Summerhays. Tim Ford roped a two-out double to the fence to score two runs. A Murray error brought Ford home and that was all the Lions needed to upset the Spartans.
"This team usually wins with the stick," Haney said. "Today it was pitching, defense and timely hitting."
After the third, both pitchers settled into their grooves and put on a classic pitching duel. Then, almost as if sensing a last-inning rally, the Payson bats sprang to life in the seventh inning.
Two Murray errors set Jared Bennett, who drove in an insurance run with a sharp single. Another Lion runner was more than enough to put the game on ice and send Payson into a game against Pleasant Grove in the next round.
Murray tried to rally from the four-run deficit, but the Spartans got nothing more than three singles - two of them infield shots to the third base gap - over the final five innings.
Haney said the Lions easily could have been in trouble after allowing five hits in the first two innings. Hansen "just got a little shakey there at the beginning, but he did great," Haney said. "It really was a good pitching duel. I think it's just we had the timely hits and they didn't."