Four games into the 2012 season, the Houston Tigers are still seeking their first victory.
Despite an improved outing Tuesday against Rolla, the Tigers gave up two sixth-inning runs to break a 2-all tie and lost 4-2 at Tiger Field.
The defeat –– combined with losses to Salem and Cuba in Friday’s doubleheader to complete the Neal’s Sporting Goods Leadoff Classic –– dropped HHS to 0-4.
“Out of the four, this was our best ballgame,” Tigers coach Brent Hall said. “If we play this way, we’ll start seeing better results as the season goes on.”
The biggest culprit of Houston’s early-season struggles –– defensive errors –– weren’t an issue in game No. 4. Instead, it was walks that cost the Tigers a chance at their first win.
Three of Rolla’s four runs reached base via walks, including both runs in the sixth inning. With one out, HHS starter Ethan Williamson walked consecutive batters and both eventually scored.
Williamson, a senior who had never pitched in a high school game until this season, was strong over six innings for the Tigers. He scattered seven hits and allowed just two earned runs. He also had five strikeouts. But the four walks proved to be costly.
“We didn’t realize he would be a pitcher until the (preseason) 50-inning game,” Hall said. “In saying that he did a great job, I know Ethan feels like he should have won that ballgame. A few less walks and some timely hits would have made a difference in a 4-2 ballgame.”
The Tigers managed just one hit –– a first-inning bloop single from senior Rodney Preheim –– compared to eight for Rolla. Houston has just one extra-base hit in the first four games of the season.
“The middle of our lineup has got to hit the ball on the middle of the bat more and hit it harder,” Hall said. “We’re not getting enough production from them.”
Houston scored a pair of first-inning runs to take a 2-1 lead. Following Quinton Alston’s leadoff walk, Devin Coulter and Ethan Williamson both reached on errors. Alston scored on Rolla’s second error, and a third error in the inning allowed Williamson to score.
A two-out single allowed the Bulldogs to pull even in the fourth inning. They took advantage of a pair of walks in the sixth to go ahead 4-2.
In the first game of Friday’s doubleheader, Houston struck out 17 times and had three hits in a 5-3 loss to Salem.
Preheim had a RBI double for the Tigers. Alston and Coulter each singled.
In the nightcap, HHS committed five errors –– leading to three unearned runs –– and lost 7-4 to Cuba.
Aaron Cantrell struck out nine batters in the complete-game loss.