Houston third baseman Eli Smith throws out Ava's Matt Jenkins, left, in the second inning of Tuesday's game.

Kaleb Poynter said he is feeling more and more relaxed at the plate. And his game keeps getting better and better.

Poynter had the biggest performance of his career to propel Houston into the district championship game. He went 3-for-3 with five RBIs to lead the Tigers past Ava 10-3 Tuesday afternoon in the Class 3 District 10 semifinals.

Houston, which defeated Buffalo 8-1 in Monday’s opening round, will face top-seeded Rogersville at 4:30 p.m. Thursday with the district title on the line.

Rogersville cruised past Liberty 12-2 in Tuesday’s other semifinal.

Poynter was the biggest reason the second-seeded Tigers advanced. He drove in runs all four times at the plate, including a two-out, two-run double in the first inning that gave Houston a lead it never relinquished.

“I think I found my swing finally,” said Poynter. “I just quit worrying about things and relaxed.”

A year ago, Poynter hit below .200 at the bottom of the Tigers’ lineup. He’s been the mainstay in the No. 5 hole this year and greatly improved all his offensive numbers.

“Last year, it was my head that was getting in the way. I was younger and couldn’t keep my head,” Poynter said. “This year, I’m more relaxed and it’s helping.”

Kyle Poynter was also 3-for-3 and scored two times for the Tigers (17-4). Lucas Cooperman and Kenny Barton had two hits apiece.

Chris Mooney worked through two shaky middle innings for his sixth victory. He scattered five hits, struck out seven and walked four.

Houston loaded the bases in the first and scored a pair of unearned runs on Kaleb Poynter’s double.

In the third inning, Kaleb Poynter lifted a high fly ball over the 330-foot sign in center field for his third homer of the season to make it 3-0.

After Ava scored a single run in the fourth, the Tigers got RBI singles from Lucas Cooperman, Kaleb Poynter and J.R. Knetzer during a four-run rally.

Kaleb Poynter walked with the based loaded in his next at-bat in the fifth for his fifth RBI. He also scored once and stole a base.

“He’s getting comfortable,” Houston coach Brent Hall said. “As an athlete, there’s no better. Kaleb finally believes. He has the mind to go along with his athletic potential.

“I’ve known he can do this all the time. He’s actually showing it now — and it’s at the right time.”

In Monday’s opener, Kyle Poynter threw six scoreless innings and struck out nine batters in an easy victory.

Poynter was dominating from the get-go, striking out six of the first nine batters he faced, including five in a row in the second and third innings. Buffalo managed just two singles and four baserunners.

Hall had considered saving Poynter for the championship before discovering the MSHSAA rule that allows pitchers to throw 10 innings in three consecutive days. Hall said he called MSHSAA and another veteran coach to confirm the rule.

Poynter will pitch against Rogersville in the championship game. Last year, he threw a one-hitter against Rogersville in the semifinals.

“Kyle will be ready to go,” Hall said. “I thought (Rogersville) looked beatable. If we can put together seven innings, we’ll be right there with a chance. That’s all you can ask for.”

Against Buffalo, Cooperman and Poynter had three hits apiece. They both scored two times each.

Cooperman led off the bottom of the first inning with a double and scored on Kaleb Poynter’s groundout.

Kyle Poynter had a RBI double in the third and sprinted home on a short pop-up in right field to make it 3-0.

Houston, which scored at least one run in five of its six innings, pushed three runs across in the fifth to take a commanding 7-0 lead. After four consecutive two-out walks forced home a run, Barton doubled just inside the first-base line to plate a pair of runs.

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