Freshman Trevor Merckling, right, celebrates with teammate Lucas Cooperman after Merckling scored the game-winning run Thursday against Licking.

In a span of five days, the Houston Tigers experienced a thrilling victory and agonizing defeat.

The thrilling: A 3-2 victory Thursday in the bottom of the seventh inning against rival Licking.

The agonizing: The Tigers lost two-run leads in both the seventh and ninth innings of a 9-8 loss Tuesday at Ava.

“We kind of take two steps forward and three steps back,” Houston coach Brent Hall said Wednesday morning. “We’re capable. It’s frustrating. If I knew the answer, I’d already have this thing figured out.”

Houston, which lost a pair of games over the weekend in the West Plains tournament, has struggled with consistency. The Tigers’ longest winning streak is two games.

They fell to 3-3 in SCA play, but two of those losses were in extra innings.

Houston (8-9) has proven it can play with good teams. The Tigers are the only conference team to beat state-ranked Salem. But as Hall pointed out, they’ve also lost to several conference teams.

“We’re really close, but we haven’t broken through,” Hall said.

On Tuesday, Ava took advantage of two errors in the bottom of the ninth to rally for the victory. The Bears were aided by an error in the seventh to erase that two-run deficit as well.

Kaleb Poynter went 3-for-5 with a triple and three steals. Freshman Devin Coulter had five stolen bases.

Poynter took the loss in relief of Eli Smith, who gave up six earned runs in seven innings. He struck out six and walked three.

On Thursday against Licking, freshman Aaron Cantrell had a two-out infield single in the bottom of the seventh to bring home Trevor Merckling with the game-winning run.

Smith struck out 10 and scattered six hits in a complete-game win.

Over the weekend, the Tigers lost 6-5 to Dora and were defeated 7-2 by Naylor.

Box scores

VARSITY

Tuesday’s game

Houston 101 121 002 — 8 9 4

Ava 001 210 203 — 9 10 1

hhs (8-9) ab r h bi ahs ab r h bi

Cprmn 1b 5 0 1 2 Shelton p 5 1 3 2

Wllmsn 2b 4 1 0 0 Baird ss 2 0 0 0

Poynter ss 5 2 3 0 Leonard 1b 4 1 0 0

Smith p 4 1 2 1 Casey 3b 4 1 1 1

Coulter 3b 3 2 0 0 Loge lf 4 2 1 0

McCarthy c 5 0 1 1 Smalley dh 4 1 3 1

Preheim lf 4 0 0 0 Coonts rf 5 1 0 0

Durbin rf 1 2 1 0 Emerich 2b 5 1 1 0

Cantrell cf 1 0 1 0 Boyd c 3 1 1 1

Johnson c 1 0 0 0

Totals 32 8 9 4 TotalsThey 38 9 10 4

2B: Cantrell, Smalley, Emerich, Boyd. 3B: Poynter, Shelton HR: Shelton. SB: Coulter 5, Smith 3, Poynter 2, Cooperman, Durbin, Baird 2, Casey. CS: McCarthy. SAC: Cantrell 3, Baird, Coonts

houston ip h r er bb so

Smith 7 7 6 4 3 6

Poynter, L 1 3 3 2 1 0

houston ip h r er bb so

Shelton 5.1 8 6 5 3 4

Wallace, W 3.2 1 2 1 1 5

HBP: Durbin 2, Coulter, Loge.

Saturday’s game

Naylor 020 003 2 — 7 8 1

Houston 001 010 0 — 2 2 1

nhs ab r h bi hhs (8-8) ab r h bi

Kouach p 4 1 1 0 Cprmn 1b 3 0 1 1

Ridgon c 3 1 0 0 Wllmsn dh 3 0 0 1

Woodrd 1b 4 1 2 1 Poynter 2b 4 0 0 0

Woolrd 2b 4 0 0 0 Smith ss 3 0 0 0

Collins 3b 2 2 1 0 Coulter 3b 3 0 1 0

Graham ss 3 0 1 0 McCarthy c 1 0 0 0

Wilkrsn lf 3 2 1 1 Preheim rf 2 0 0 0

Bridges 2b 3 0 2 2 Cantrell p 1 2 0 0

Lutes rf 3 0 0 0 Alston lf 2 0 0 0

Totals 29 7 8 4 Totals 22 2 2 2

2B: Woodard, Bridges. 3B: Cooperman. SB: Kouach 2, Collins 2, Graham 2, Rigdon, Bridges, Cantrell 2, Cooperman, Smith, Preheim. SAC: Alston.

naylor ip h r er bb so

Kouach, W 6 2 2 2 6 7

Woodard 1 0 0 0 1 2

houston ip h r er bb so

Cantrell, L 6 7 5 2 0 1

Poynter 1 1 2 1 1 2

HBP: Collins

Friday’s game

Houston 200 000 3 — 5 5 4

Dora 002 112 x — 6 11 0

hhs (8-7) ab r h bi dhs ab r h bi

Cprmn p 2 2 2 1 Sexton p 2 2 1 0

Wllmsn 1b 1 1 1 0 Fox c 3 2 2 0

Poynter 2b 3 2 1 0 VnAllmn ss 4 0 3 2

Smith ss 3 0 0 0 Walker 2b 4 0 1 2

Coulter 3b 2 0 0 1 Morgan 1b 4 1 1 0

McCarthy c 0 0 0 2 Pardo 3b 4 0 1 1

Preheim lf 4 0 1 1 Collins cf 2 1 2 0

Durbin rf 3 0 0 0 Collins rf 3 0 0 0

Cantrell cf 3 0 0 0 Haney lf 3 0 0 0

Totals 20 5 5 5 Totals 29 6 11 5

2B: VonAllmen, Morgan. HR: Cooperman. SB: Cooperman, Collins 3, Pardo 2, Sexton, Fox, VonAllmen, Haney. CS: Cooperman 2, Williamson.

houston ip h r er bb so

Cooperman, L 6 11 6 4 4 9

dora ip h r er bb so

Sexton, W 6 3 2 2 4 3

Morgan 1 2 3 3 7 5

HBP: McCarthy 2, Durbin.

Thursday’s game

Licking 200 000 0 — 2 6 3

Houston 010 001 1 — 3 5 2

lhs ab r h bi hhs (8-6) ab r h bi

Porter cf 3 1 1 0 Cprmn 1b 2 1 1 0

Case 2b 4 1 1 0 Wllmsn 3b 1 0 0 0

Hood 3b 2 0 0 1 Poynter 2b 2 0 0 0

Hood c 3 0 0 0 Smith p 2 1 1 0

Hood p 3 0 2 1 Coulter ss 3 0 1 0

Smith lf 3 0 0 0 McCarthy c 1 1 0 0

Kinder dh 3 0 1 0 Preheim lf 4 0 0 0

Wade ss 3 0 1 0 Durbin rf 4 0 1 0

Roberts 1b 3 0 0 0 Cantrell cf 3 0 1 1

Totals 27 2 6 2 Totals 22 3 5 2

SB: Hood 2, Kinder, Wade, McCarthy. CS: Coulter, Durbin. SF: Hood, Smith. SAC: Williamson.

licking ip h r er bb so

Hood 4.1 4 1 1 7 7

Hood, L 2.2 1 2 1 4 4

houston ip h r er bb so

Smith, W 7 6 2 2 2 10

HBP: Poynter

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