The Empire high school baseball team is headed to the Division III state championship for the second time in the school's short history after defeating Payson 13-3 on Friday in Surprise.
The No. 13 Ravens (24-6) needed just five innings to down the No. 9 Longhorns (20-10).
Empire will play No. 3 Fountain Hills at 7 tonight at Surprise Stadium in its second state championship appearance since 2010.
The Ravens will be the lower seed for the fourth consecutive game.
Empire jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first with the help of a two-run homer by junior Connor Geurts.
"Scoring early is something we've been doing well," Empire coach Tom Belter said. "It forces other teams to get away from their game plan."
After two innings the Ravens pushed the lead to 6-0; by the end of the fourth it was 9-1.
Empire scored four more runs in the top of fifth to extend the lead to 13-1, bringing the run-rule into play.
Despite allowing two in the fifth, senior pitcher Colton Stokes improved to 10-0.
Sophomore Donny Sands finished with a team-high four hits and seven RBIs.
"We feel like we can beat anybody," Sands said.