Tanner Cantrell’s one swing erased a three-run deficit. But Cuba relentlessly answered and pulled away.
The Wildcats scored in all but one inning Thursday afternoon and cruised past Houston 12-5 to conclude the Neal’s Sporting Goods Leadoff Classic.
The Tigers, who opened the season Monday with a 16-4 win against Salem, lost their final two games of the tournament to fall to 1-2. In the nightcap, Mountain Grove beat Salem 10-0 in five innings to win the tournament title.
Tanner Cantrell provided the game’s biggest play with a third-inning grand slam that turned a 3-0 deficit into a one-run HHS lead. But while the Tigers only added another run to that total, Cuba consistently piled onto its mark.
Cuba had seven extra-base hits and out-hit the Tigers 15-6 as the Wildcats improved to 2-1. Eight different players had hits, led by cleanup hitter Cameron Williams, who went 5-for-5.
HHS sophomore Nathan Poynter was 2-for-2 with a run scored and RBI. Tanner Cantrell knocked in four runs and has eight of the Tigers’ 19 RBIs through three games.
The Wildcats scored two runs in the first inning against right-hander Devin Coulter and added another in the third for a 3-0 lead.
Tanner Cantrell changed it with one swing.
The Tigers, who were hitless through two innings, got singles from No. 9 hitter Poynter and Coulter leading off the third. Walker walked to load the bases for Tanner Cantrell, who ripped a line drive over the 330-foot sign in center field for a grand slam.
But the lead didn’t last long.
Cuba scored once in the fourth to tie it, then four times in the fifth and three more in the sixth to take a comfortable lead.
Coulter gave up 12 hits and eight earned runs in 4 1/3 innings in the loss. He struck out two and walked one.
HOUSTON (ab-r-h-bi) – Coulter p 4-1-1-0. Walker 1b 2-1-0-0. TCantrell 3b 3-1-1-4. WWelch 2-0-1-0. ACantrell dh 3-0-0-0. SWelch lf 3-0-0-0. Alston cf 3-0-1-0. Merckling 2b 3-1-0-0. Poynter rf 2-1-2-1. Totals 25-5-6-5.CUBA (ab-r-h-bi) – Thompson 2b 4-2-3-2. Nash c 5-0-1-1. Bouse ss 5-2-2-0. Williams 1b 5-3-5-2. Payne 3b 5-0-2-1. Wild rf 3-2-0-0. McIntosh dh 3-2-0-0. Weaver p 3-1-1-1. Libhart cf 4-0-1-0. Totals 37-12-15-8.
2B: Thompson 2, Williams 2, Bouse, Weaver. 3B: Bouse. HR: TCantrell. SF: Weaver. SB: Williams 3, Payne, Wild.