Tigers drop close call at Salem

Behind a strong outing from sophomore Eli Smith, making his varsity debut on the mound, the Houston Tigers hung tough with Salem in a 2-1 road loss Tuesday.

The same Salem team romped the Tigers 14-0 in five innings just two weeks earlier.

“We’ve been playing pretty well as a whole,” Houston coach Brent Hall said. “Even though we lost, it’s good to see improvement. That’s the main thing.”

Smith made a surprise starter for senior David Weybright, who is battling shoulder trouble. Smith allowed just four hits and two unearned runs while striking out two and walking two.

Hall said Smith’s performance earned him another shot on the mound and a potential spot in the rotation. Chris Mooney, the team’s No. 2 pitcher, has a leg injury.

“Eli’s biggest question mark is keeping his focus and not getting flustered,” Hall said. “He did that. He kept getting out of jams.”

Houston got its lone run in the top of the first inning. Mooney walked, Caleb Smith was hit by a pitch and Kyle Poynter singled to load the bases. J.R. Knetzer grounded out to score Mooney.

Poynter, who also singled in the seventh, had both of Houston’s hits against Grant Gordon, who fanned 10 and walked one.

On Friday, Poynter hit a three-run home run and Caleb Smith had three hits in a 12-2 five-inning thumping of Stoutland.

Poynter, who also had a run-scoring double in a five-run fifth inning, and Mooney had two hits each. Caleb Smith and Ty Foster drove in two runs apiece.

Poynter gave up six hits and two unearned runs for the win. He struck out four and walked none.

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