The Houston Tigers were a victory away from staking their claim for the top seed in the district.
But a sloppy loss likely dropped the Tigers back to the middle of the pack.
Forced to play a doubleheader after inclement weather sidelined Houston for nine days, the Tigers outlasted Hartville 5-1 in eight innings Monday to strengthen its postseason resume. But what followed in the nightcap – a season-worst six errors en route to a 6-5 loss to Mountain Grove – brought an end to any talk of the top seed.
“We went from potentially being a No. 1 to anywhere from 3-5 probably,” Tigers coach Brent Hall said of Wednesday’s district meeting.
Houston (9-8) was sharp in Game 1 behind a solid outing from right-hander Chris Mooney.
Mooney struck out eight and gave up just five hits and one unearned run and kept Hartville at bay until the Tigers rallied in the eighth inning.
Eli Smith singled with one out, followed by a perfectly-placed bunt from Kaleb Poynter. David Weybright walked to load the bases, and Mooney grounded into a fielder’s choice to make it 2-1.
Caleb Smith followed with a two-run single, and Kyle Poynter singled home Mooney to give Houston a four-run cushion.
Four of the Tigers’ five hits came in the final inning.
But any momentum Houston had quickly vanished in Game 2. The Tigers’ six errors led to four unearned runs and one of the toughest losses of the season.
“It was just not staying focused,” Hall said. “I think we were satisfied and happy with the way we played the first game. There’s two ways to go. You carry that into the second game or you have a letdown.”
Trailing 6-3, Houston loaded the bases in the seventh and scored twice on Poynter’s sacrifice fly and a single from David Foster. But with the tying run at third base, Jacob Case struck out to end the game.
Weybright was 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles. Mooney had two hits and scored three times.
Kyle Poynter gave up six hits and struck out eight in his first loss.
Grove 010 122 0 – 6 6 0
Houston 100 020 2 – 5 9 6
HOUSTON (ab-r-h-bi) – Weybright cf 4-1-3-0. Mooney ss 2-3-2-1. CSmith 4-0-2-2. KyPoynter p 3-0-0-1. DFoster 3-0-1-1. Case rf 4-0-0-0. Pounds 1b 3-0-0-0. ESmith 3b 3-1-1-0. KaPoynter 2b 2-0-0-0. Totals 28-5-9-5.
2B: Weybright 2, Mooney, ESmith. 3B: CSmith. 2B: CSmith.
houston ip h r er bb so
KyPoynter, L 7 6 6 2 3 8
Record: Houston 9-8.
Houston 001 000 04 – 5 5 1
Hartville 000 100 00 – 1 5 2
HOUSTON (ab-r-h-bi) – Weybright cf 3-1-1-0. Mooney p 4-1-0-1. CSmith c 4-0-1-2. KyPoynter ss 4-0-1-1. DFoster lf 4-0-0-0. Knetzer 1b 2-0-0-0. Case rf 2-0-0-0. Pounds 1b 3-0-0-0. ESmith 3b 2-2-1-0. KaPoynter 2b 2-1-1-0. Totals 30-5-5-4.
SB: Weybright. SAC: KaPoynter.
houston ip h r er bb so
Mooney, W 8 5 1 0 3 8
Record: Houston 9-7.