The storyline was unfolding perfectly. Dominant pitching. Extra innings against a rival. Even a rare “sun delay” as Houston coach Brent Hall pursued his 300th career win.

But Mountain Grove spoiled the ending.

The Panthers pushed across a run in the top of the 12th inning with a one-out triple to edge the Tigers 4-3 Thursday in the State Farm Houston Wood Bat Classic.

HHS, which lost for the first time this season, won’t wait long for another crack at the milestone for its coach. The Tigers face Licking at 4 p.m. Friday.

Houston (3-1) was dominant on the mound as three pitchers combined for 26 strikeouts – a state record for Ks in extra innings – with just three walks and one earned run allowed. But the offense couldn’t compliment the pitching staff.

The Tigers stranded runners in scoring position in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings and left 11 combined runners on base. The biggest missed opportunity came in the eighth when Connor Wilson led off with a double and moved to third base with one out. The next two batters struck out.

Sophomore Trevor Mitchell had two of Houston’s six hits. Alex Castleman had a pair of sacrifice flies. Wilson and Sterling Jackson both doubled.

HHS baseball

Houston’s Braedin Groff delivers a pitch in the first inning against Mountain Grove. Groff struck out 12 batters in five innings.

HHS starter Braedin Groff fanned six of the first seven batters he faced. He finished with 12 strikeouts while walking one and allowing two hits and one unearned run.

{{tncms-inline alignment=”right” content=”<p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Tuesday’s scores</strong></p> <p>Houston 4, Cuba 2</p> <p>Licking 9, Mountain Grove 2</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Thursday’s scores</strong></p> <p>Mountain Grove 4, Houston 3 (12 inn.)</p> <p>Cuba 2, Licking 1</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Friday’s games</strong></p> <p>Licking vs. Houston, 4 p.m.</p> <p>Cuba vs. Mountain Grove, 6 p.m.</p>” id=”846ee80b-e26a-4af4-81b6-47e4fae6b24a” style-type=”bio” title=”STATE FARM HOUSTON WOOD BAT CLASSIC” type=”relcontent” width=”half”}}

Jackson was just as good in relief. The junior left-hander had 13 strikeouts and two walks in 6 2/3 innings. Jackson gave up four hits and three runs – just one earned.

Jackson, who was pulled in the top of the 12th after throwing 107 pitches, took the loss. The run was unearned. 

The game took four hours to complete. Nearly a quarter of that time was a delay as the sun set in center field. After one pitch in the top of the 10th, the home plate umpire called for the stoppage. It lasted about 50 minutes.

Houston led 1-0 after Castleman’s third-inning sacrifice fly brought home Mitchell. 

After Mountain Grove scored an unearned run in the fifth, Castleman had another sacrifice fly – this time plating Groff – to make it 2-1.

The Panthers, who tied it in the sixth, went ahead for the first time in the top of the 10th with an infield single, throwing error and another single. 

Down to their final out, the Tigers tied it in the bottom of the 10th when Jacob Koch singled to right field to bring home pinch runner Wiley Sisco. 

HHS baseball

HHS baseball coach Brent Hall watches from the sidelines as his team battled in extra innings Thursday against Mountain Grove. Hall had 299 career wins in 21 seasons with the Tigers.

BOX SCORE

     123      456      789      10 11 12      –      R      H      E   
Mountain Grove      000      011      000      1   0   1      –      4      7      4   
Houston    001    010    000    1   0   0    –    3    6    4 

HOUSTON (ab-r-h-bi) – Alex Castleman 3b 4-0-0-2. Sterling Jackson 1b 5-0-1-0. Connor Wilson ss 3-0-1-0. Cody Allen c 6-0-1-0. Devin Wallander lf 6-0-0-0. Jacob Koch 2b 4-0-1-1. Braedin Groff p 4-1-0-0. Trevor Mitchell dh 4-1-2-0. Hunter Stilley cf 2-0-0-0. Wiley Sisco pr 0-1-0-0. Totals 38-3-6-3.

2B: Jackson, Wilson. SAC: Stilley 2. SF: Castleman 2. SB: Wilson, Mitchell. CS: Wilson, Groff. 

Tuesday’s scores

Houston 4, Cuba 2

Licking 9, Mountain Grove 2

Thursday’s scores

Mountain Grove 4, Houston 3 (12 inn.)

Cuba 2, Licking 1

Friday’s games

Licking vs. Houston, 4 p.m.

Cuba vs. Mountain Grove, 6 p.m.

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