Houston seniors, from left, David Weybright, David Foster and Caleb Smith walk off the field with second-place district plaque after losing to Ava.

Updated 11:10 a.m.: AVA – It didn’t take long for Houston’s district dreams to disappear.

Top-seeded Ava scored eight first-inning runs and took advantage of five Tigers’ errors en route to an 11-5 victory in Tuesday’s championship game of the Class 3 District 10 tournament.

The Bears won the program’s third district title and first since 1997. Houston, which advanced to the finale with a 1-0 victory Monday against reigning district champion Logan-Rogersville, remains stuck on six.

“Whether it’s the district final or any game, you have a hard time winning with that many errors,” Houston coach Brent Hall said. “We played well to get to this point, then kind of struggled.”

Things unraveled early for the Tigers (14-11).

Following a two-run double by Brandon Stanifer, Ava’s Matt Jenkins hit a towering home-run just inside the left-field foul pole to make it 4-0. The next batter reached on an error, leading to four unearned runs and an eight-run advantage that the Bears would never relinquish.

Houston starter Eli Smith lasted just 2/3 innings, giving up four hits and seven runs – four earned. He walked one and struck out one.

Hall hoped to get a couple innings out of Smith, the team’s No. 3 starter, before bringing in Chris Mooney and Kyle Poynter. The duo had each pitched complete-game victories leading to the title game and only had three innings remaining to pitch.

Mooney relieved Smith and gave up three consecutive hits before getting out of the nightmarish first inning.

“Eli is our No. 3 and has been all year,” Hall said. “He’s capable of doing it. It just didn’t happen.”

With the Tigers in a huge hole, Hall pulled Mooney after just 1/3 innings. Senior David Weybright threw the next four innings – allowing just three hits and two unearned runs – before Poynter took over in the sixth.

Despite the huge deficit, the Tigers had opportunities to pull closer. They loaded the bases and scored three times in the fifth with four walks and a hit batter. But with no outs, Stanifer got J.R. Knetzer and Caleb Poynter to strike out before getting a lazy flyout to end the inning.

The next inning, three consecutive walks loaded the bases again. Kyle Poynter’s sacrifice fly brought home the lone run.

The Tigers stranded eight runners. Ava scored all but one of its runs with two outs.

“We had our chances and just didn’t capitalize on them, and they did. That’s why they advance,” Hall said. “They executed and got timely hitting when they needed.”

Eli Smith and Knetzer each doubled to account for half of the Tigers’ four hits. Weybright, who scored three times, and Caleb Smith each had singles.

It was the final game in the careers of seniors Weybright, Foster and Caleb Smith. They shared embraces with their teammates and coaching staff after accepting the second-place plaque.

Weybright and Smith were three-year starters and played pivotal roles on the 2007 team that finished second in the state.

“They exemplify everything I want a baseball player to be. I can’t thank them enough for everything they did for me,” Hall said of his seniors. “They helped take this program to places it had never been before. Without them, we couldn’t have done it. It’s going to be hard to see them go.”

hhs (14-11) ab r h bi ahs ab r h bi

Wybrght cf 2 3 1 0 Shelton p 4 2 1 2

Mooney 3b 3 1 0 0 Wallace ss 5 2 3 1

CSmith c 2 0 1 1 Ritter 2b 3 0 1 2

KyPyntr ss 3 1 1 1 Leonard c 4 1 2 0

ESmith p 3 1 1 1 Stanifer cf 3 1 2 2

Knetzer 1b 4 0 1 0 Jenkins 1b 4 1 1 2

KaPyntr dh 4 0 0 0 Tanner lf 3 1 0 0

DFoster rf 4 0 0 0 Baird 3b 2 2 0 0

Case lf 2 1 0 0 Coonts rf 2 1 0 0

Totals 26 5 4 3 Totals 30 11 10 9

2B: ESmith, Knetzer, Stanifer. HR: Jenkins. CS: Wallace. SF: KyPoynter, Ritter. SAC: Baird.

Houston 001 031 0 – 5 4 5

Ava 802 001 x – 11 10 1

houston ip h r er bb so

ESmith, L 0.2 4 7 4 1 1

Mooney 0.1 3 1 0 0 0

Weybright 4 3 2 0 2 5

KyPoynter 1 0 1 0 1 0

ava ip h r er bb so

Shelton, W 4.1 4 3 3 3 3

Wallace 0 0 0 0 1 0

Stanifer 1 0 2 2 3 3

Shelton 1.2 0 0 0 0 3

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