Mansfield’s Dustin Taylor hit a sixth-inning grand slam to erase Houston’s early lead, and the Lions scored on a botched rundown in the ninth inning to squeak past the Tigers 8-7 Tuesday in the Class 2 District 12 semifinals.
Mansfield, which trailed 6-0 after two innings, got consecutive one-out hits in the bottom of the ninth in front of Quentin Berry’s single to center. David Weybright’s throw into the infield was cut off, and Kyle Cunningham was caught between third base and home. Shortstop Kirk Pierce chased Cunningham toward home plate and his attempted flip to catcher bounced off Cunningham’s back, allowing him to easily score and set off a wild celebration.
Houston, which advanced to the state championship game last year, finished its season with a 9-11 mark.
The Tigers’ early offensive charge came to a standstill against Mansfield lefty Landon Jarrett, who fanned 19 batters and allowed one earned runs in 7 2/3 innings of relief.
Jarrett whiffed eight of the final 10 batters he faced. Houston junior Caleb Smith was ejected from the game after arguing when he struck out to end the eighth.
Pierce, who started every game of his four-year career with the Tigers, was 1-for-3 with three runs scored in the final outing of his career. Tom Oakley and A.J. Castleman knocked in two runs apiece.
Like Monday’s district opener against Cabool, the Tigers took a commanding lead early.
David Weybright led off the game with a single and Smith was hit by a pitch to put runners at first and second. Pierce ripped a run-scoring double just inside the third-base line, and Oakley followed with a bloop single to right field that scored a pair of runs. Castleman grounded out to second to score Pierce, and freshman Eli Smith’s sacrifice fly made it 5-0.
Pierce walked with one out in the second and Oakley drilled a fastball off the top of the left-field fence to knock out Veit, who was roughed up for six earned runs in 1 1/3 innings. Pierce scored on a wild pitch to give the Tigers a six-run cushion.
Taylor, who gave Mansfield its first run with a towering solo home run to center in the third, erased a 7-3 deficit with a line drive in the sixth that just cleared the left field fence for a grand slam.
Castleman took the loss, giving up 10 hits and seven earned runs in 8 1/3 innings. He struck out nine.
Houston 510 100 000 – 7 8 3
Mansfield 001 104 001 – 8 10 0
HOUSTON (ab-r-h-bi) – Weybright cf 5-1-1-0. CSmith ss 3-1-0-0. Pierce c 3-3-1-1. Oakley 1b 5-1-2-2. Castleman p 5-0-1-2. Mooney lf 2-1-0-0. Chernowsky dh 3-0-0-0. Foster cf 4-0-1-0. Esmith 2b 3-0-2-1. Totals 33-7-8-6.
MANSFIELD (ab-r-h-bi) – Jones ss 5-1-1-1. Jarrett cf 4-1-0-1. Taylor lf 5-2-3-5. Clayton 3b 5-0-1-0. Cunningham c 5-1-1-0. Veit p 5-0-1-0. Berry 1b 4-2-3-0. Fulp 2b 1-1-0-0. Box rf 3-0-0-0. Totals 37-8-10-7.
2B: Pierce, Oakley. HR: Taylor 2. SB: Pierce. CS: CSmith.
Houston ip h r er bb so
Castleman, L 8 1/3 10 8 7 4 9
Mansfield ip h r er bb so
Veit 1 1/3 5 6 6 3 0
Jarrett, W 7 2/3 3 1 1 2 19