Senior Eli Smith struck out a career-best 13 batters, including the final four he faced, to lead the Houston Tigers to a 3-1 season-opening victory Monday against Salem.
Houston (1-0) will host Ava at 4 p.m. Tuesday in the semifinals. In Monday’s other first-round games, the Bears defeated Willow Springs, Mountain Grove beat Liberty and Cabool topped Thayer.
Smith completely dominated the Salem lineup. He allowed just two infield singles and only one ball – a line drive caught by left fielder Quinton Alston – reached the outfield. He didn’t walk a batter and gave up one unearned run.
The Tigers mustered just enough offensively.
Ethan Williamson had two of the team’s three hits and scored twice in his first varsity start. Lucas Cooperman tripled and scored.
After Houston’s first four batters struck out, Williamson singled with one out in the second and scored on Rodney Preheim’s fielder’s choice.
After Salem scored an unearned run to make it 1-1, Williamson doubled leading off the fourth and scored on a throwing error.
Cooperman tripled over the right fielder’s head leading off the fifth and scored one batter later when senior Kaleb Poynter lifted a sacrifice fly to left.
That was plenty of support for Smith, who fanned at least one batter in all seven innings of the complete-game victory. He struck out five different Salem hitters two times apiece.
Salem 000 100 0 – 1 2 3
Houston 010 110 x – 3 3 4
SALEM (ab-r-h-bi) – Bettigrew ss 3-0-1-0. Sutterfield cf 2-0-1-0. Steinbarger 3-0-0-0. Shaw 3b 3-0-0-0. Conaway p 3-1-0-0. Rogers dh 3-0-0-0. Stluka c 3-0-0-0. Elliott 1b 3-0-0-0. Floyd lf 3-0-0-0. Totals 26-1-2-0.
HOUSTON (ab-r-h-bi) – Cooperman 1b 2-1-1-0. Poynter ss 2-0-0-1. Smith p 1-0-0-0. McCarthy c 3-0-0-0. Williamson 2b 3-2-2-0. Campbell cf 2-0-0-0. Preheim rf 3-0-0-1. Coulter 3b 1-0-0-0. Alston lf 2-0-0-0. Totals 19-3-3-2.
2B – Williamson. 3B – Cooperman. SB – Sutterfield, Conaway, Floyd, Campbell 2, Smith, Williamson. CS – Smith. SF – Poynter. SAC – Campbell.
Salem ip h r er bb so
Conaway, L 4 3 3 3 2 7
Floyd 2 0 0 0 0 0
Houston ip h r er bb so
Smith, W 7 2 1 0 0 13
HBP: Sutterfield (by Smith), Smith 2 (by Conaway)