Houston baseball coach Brent Hall has a dilemma: Take a gamble with his No. 3 pitcher in the district opener or send one of his top two pitchers to the mound?
“I haven’t decided yet,” Hall said. “I’ll probably change my mind four times before then.”
The question at hand is whether Hall should start Lucas Cooperman in Saturday’s game against Buffalo or go with Kyle Poynter or Chris Mooney.
Hall flirted with the strategy Tuesday when he started Cooperman, the team’s third-best starter, against Mansfield. Two errors put Houston in an early hold and forced Hall to bring in Poynter. The Tigers rallied with 10 sixth-inning runs en route to a 12-5 victory.
Cooperman was hurt by a pair of errors in a strong outing. He gave up four hits and four runs – two earned — in 4.1 innings. He struck out four and walked two.
“It’s a Catch 22,” Hall said of starting Cooperman in the opener. “If Lucas can give us a good ballgame and we win, then you’ve got Chris and Kyle set up for the next two games. If you lose, you have your two best pitchers that you didn’t use.”
The Tigers (15-4) are seeded second in the Class 3 District 10 tournament. That face Buffalo at 2 p.m. Saturday at home. All games will be played at Houston.
Poynter and Mooney give the Tigers a strong 1-2 pitching punch for the postseason.
Poynter is 8-2 after earning a win in relief against Mansfield and throwing a perfect game Friday at Plato. He has a 1.22 ERA and has struck out 95 batters in 57.1 innings.
Mooney is 5-1 with a 1.27 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 33 innings.
If Cooperman, who is 1-0 with a 5.83 ERA, can win the opening game, Mooney and Poynter would pitch in the semifinals and championship game.
Houston limps into the postseason after starting the season 12-2 and winning the SCA tournament and regular season titles. The Tigers lost consecutive games to Licking and Willow Springs and were down 5-2 to Mansfield before rallying.
“I like our chances, and I like our team,” Hall said. “If we can put it together and play the type of ball we played the first three-quarters of the year, we’ll be in good shape.”