Tigers take top seed into districts

Brent Hall played on the last Houston baseball team to win a district title. Now he gets the opportunity to win a championship as the Tigers’ coach.

Houston will be favored to win its first district title in 15 years after the Tigers received the top seed for next week’s Class 2 District 12 Tournament. Houston will face eighth-seeded Willow Springs at 4 p.m. Monday, May 14 at Tiger Field.

Houston last won a district title in 1992 – when Hall was a player – and has won five overall (1980, 1975, 1960, 1959).

“This is kind of our time,” Hall said. “We have a senior-laden team and we’ve all worked together for a long time. It would be big and they know it would be big.”

After a strong 9-1 start, the Tigers have stumbled down the stretch. Following Tuesday’s 5-4 home loss to Mansfield – the district’s third seed – Houston (12-6) has lost four of its last six games entering the postseason.

But Hall remains confident that his team is more than capable of bring home the championship. After a first-round matchup with Willow Springs – a team the Tigers thumped by scores of 23-8 and 19-3 in a three-day period – Houston will face the Seymour-Gainesville winner Tuesday at Mansfield. A victory would propel the Tigers into Thursday’s title game against Mansfield or second-seeded Hartville.

“I like our position going into it better than any other team,” Hall said. “We’ve got a little bit easier road if we can take care of it and do our job. We’ve got to keep our confidence and keep believing in ourselves.”

Houston (12-6) managed just two hits and two runs Tuesday before Gus Durst’s two-run homer in the top of the seventh inning. The Tigers, who struck out 13 times, were the visiting team because the game was originally scheduled to be played at Mansfield.

Caleb Smith had a run-scoring bloop single in the third, and Devin Harper knocked in a run with a sixth-inning groundout. Stringer had Houston’s other hit.

With nothing at stake, Hall rested his top pitchers in favor of A.J. Castleman, who responded with five strong innings. Castleman allowed five hits and three earned runs while striking out four and walking three.

Hall said Castleman’s performance earned him the starting nod in Monday’s district opener.

“He pitched just as good of an outing as any of our top pitchers this year,” Hall said. “It’s especially a shot in the arm for next year because he’s going to be the guy.”

On Friday against Plato, Cory Hart and David Weybright had two hits apiece to pace Houston’s 10-hit attack.

Devin Harper scored twice for the Tigers, who took advantage of four Plato errors with four unearned runs.

Nathan Trentham gave up three hits and one earned run in three innings as he improved to 3-3. Hart also gave up a single run in three innings.

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