MANSFIELD – The Houston Tigers are one win away from ending a long district championship drought.
Gus Durst drove in six runs and Justin Stringer had four hits as the Tigers pounded Seymour 22-1 Wednesday in the Class 2 District 10 semifinals at Mansfield.
The victory propelled top-seeded Houston into today’s 5 p.m. championship final against third-seeded Mansfield, which rallied past Hartville in Wednesday’s other semifinal. The Tigers (14-6) will send Durst, their hard-throwing right-hander and staff ace, to the mound against the Lions on their home field.
“I like our chances,” Houston coach Brent Hall said. “I hope that Gus just gives them fits.”
Hall was a player on the Tigers’ last district championship team 15 years ago. Houston has five district titles in team history
“Coach Hall wants it more than anybody,” said junior Kirk Pierce, who was 3-for-3 with two doubles and three RBIs.
Houston wasted no time taking control as it advanced to its second straight district final. The Tigers scored five times in the first as they knocked out starter Jordan Rippee and after scoring twice in the second and three times in the third, tacked on 11 more runs in the fourth.
While Houston’s offense surged, Seymour sputtered against senior Nathan Trentham. The right-hander gave up just three hits while striking out seven and walking one in five solid innings.
“He threw as good as he’s thrown all year,” Hall said.
Durst was 3-for-5 with three doubles, four runs and six RBIs. Caleb Smith also scored four times for the Tigers, who got at least two runs from eight different players.
Durst started the scoring with a run-scoring double in the first. Seven of Houston’s first eight batters reached base – five by walks – and Rippee recorded just one out before he was pulled.
Pierce had a RBI double in the second as the Tigers led 7-0. Smith and Travis Swearengin each had bases-loaded walks in the third to make it 11-0.
The floodgates opened in the fourth as Houston sent 15 batters to the plate and scored 11 times. Durst had a pair of two-run doubles in the inning. Pierce also knocked in a pair of runs with a double.
“I hope we can continue that. We were aggressive and put the ball in play, which puts pressure on their defense,” Hall said. “If we can do that (today), we ought to have a good opportunity to win a district championship.”
Seymour got its lone run in the fourth when Josh Cook walked, stole second and scored on Cody Myers’ single to center field.
Houston, which lost to Mansfield in last year’s district final, lost to the Lions 5-4 in the final game of the regular season. But the Tigers pitched their No. 4 starter and Mansfield used ace left-hander Landon Jarrett, who likely won’t be available after throwing seven innings Wednesday against Hartville.
Seymour 000 10 – 1 3 4
Houston 524 (11)x – 22 13 1
SEYMOUR (ab-r-h-bi) – Ruiz cf 3-0-0-0. Cook c 1-1-0-0. Myers 3b 2-0-1-1. Lesmeister ss 2-0-0-0. Rippee p 2-0-0-0. Valenzuela dh 2-0-0-0. Barlow rf 2-0-0-0. Matney 1b 2-0-2-0. Helms lf 2-0-0-0. Totals 18-1-3-1.
HOUSTON (ab-r-h-bi) – Stringer 2b 5-2-4-0. Smith c 3-4-0-1. Durst ss 5-4-3-6. Pierce c 3-3-3-3. Hart 1b 4-2-1-2. Swearengin rf 2-2-0-1. Weybright rf 2-1-0-0. Harper lf 2-2-1-2. Trentham p 2-2-1-1. Totals 28-22-13-16.
WP: Trentham (4-3). LP: Rippee.