Houston senior J.R. Knetzer is congratulated by his teammates after scoring on a fourth-inning wild pitch.

Houston coach Brent Hall didn’t gamble. He went with his ace in the district opener and got an easy victory.

Senior Kyle Poynter struck out nine batters and allowed two hits over six shutout innings as the second-seeded Tigers cruised past Buffalo 8-1 Monday in the opening round of the Class 3 District 10 Tournament.

The Tigers face No. 3 Ava at 4 p.m. Tuesday. Top-seeded Rogersville and Liberty play in the other semifinal.

Hall toyed with the idea of saving Poynter for the semifinals or final. He ultimately decided to send his staff ace to the mound, and Poynter delivered.

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.

Lucas 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, Kenny Barton doubled just inside the first-base line to plate a pair of runs.

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