Rolla takes bite out of Tigers

Houston coach Brent Hall has challenged his team to get better. After Tuesday’s lopsided loss to Rolla, the Tigers have many areas to improve.

Baserunning blunders.

Fielding errors.

Missed assignments.

Too many walks by the pitching staff.

Too little contact by batters.

The result was a 13-0 blanking that has Houston searching for answers.

“I honestly expected us to have a game like this at some point. I just wish it wasn’t this ugly,” Hall said. “In every aspect of our game we made a mistake.”

After the loss, Hall addressed his team in calm but stern manner for several minutes.

“I challenged these guys to getting back to work and playing the game right,” he said. “If we do that, we can still achieve every goal we’ve set out to accomplish. But if we don’t play the game right, we won’t get very far.”

Houston’s problems began with the pitching staff. Starter A.J. Castleman and reliever David Foster combined to walk 10 batters.

When Rolla put the ball in play, the Bulldogs were aided by three errors that led to five unearned runs. There were also several mental errors that won’t appear in the scorebook but put runs for Rolla on the scoreboard.

The Tigers (1-1) generated nothing offensively against Rolla right-hander Chris Bowe, who struck out 10 over six dominating innings. Senior Kirk Pierce’s flare single just inside the right-field line in the fourth inning was Houston’s lone hit.

The Tigers had trouble catching up with Bowe’s fastball, which Hall estimated was zipping to the plate around 80 mph.

“We haven’t seen a kid that throws that hard. A lot of our players came from the JV and just haven’t seen that in the course of their careers,” Hall said. “It’s something that they’ll have to take their lumps as they go and hopefully adapt quickly.”

Castleman struggled from the get-go, walking the first batter he faced and hitting the second. After a strikeout, Castleman walked two more batters to force home Rolla’s first run.

Rolla scored three times in the second, highlighted by RBI doubles following two Houston errors.

Andy Hall homered to right field leading off the third to jump-start a five-run rally that included three walks, a hit batsman and another Tigers’ error.

Castleman, who gave up just three hits and struck out 10 in last week’s season opener, never settled in against Rolla. He walked seven and gave up nine runs – four earned – in three innings.

“He didn’t have a good rhythm and consistency with his motion,” Hall said. “There comes a point when you’re struggling where you suck it up and get it done or you go the other direction and it snowballs on you. Today, he let it snowball on him.”

Houston managed just four baserunners. One was caught stealing on a missed signal and baserunning mistake. None made it past first base.

“I think some of our guys thought maybe we’re better than what we are now,” Hall said. “Give credit to Rolla. They are probably one of the three or four best teams on our schedule.”

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