Dominant pitching and aggressive baserunning continue to be the formula for the Houston baseball team’s strong start to the season.

Jacob Koch struck out nine batters over five scoreless innings and the Tigers swiped eight bases as they topped Cuba 4-2 Tuesday afternoon in the State Farm Houston Wood Bat Classic.

With a 3-0 start to the 2019 season, HHS has quickly moved coach Brent Hall to the doorstep of a milestone. His next victory – with opportunities Thursday against Mountain Grove and Friday against Licking to conclude the tournament – will be the 300th of his career.

Koch allowed just one hit as he won for the second time this season. He walked four.

Sterling Jackson, who allowed a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh, earned his second save.

{{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 games</strong></p> <p>Mountain Grove vs. Houston, 4 p.m.</p> <p>Cuba vs. Licking, 6 p.m.</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=”cf03e864-c460-43a2-9c5a-c9fdaac7eb31″ style-type=”bio” title=”STATE FARM HOUSTON WOOD BAT CLASSIC” type=”relcontent” width=”half”}}

Houston, which managed just three hits, scored all four of its runs in the fifth.

Koch, who reached on a walk, scored when he swiped third base on a double steal and advanced home on a throwing error. One batter later, No. 9 hitter Hunter Stilley singled to center to bring home Trevor Mitchell, who walked and stole second, to make it 2-0.

Alex Castleman’s grounder to second base was mishandled, allowing Stilley to score. Sterling Jackson followed with a run-scoring single to plate Castleman.

Houston has 23 steals on 27 attempts through three games. Castleman, Koch and Braedin Groff had two apiece against Cuba.

The Tigers’ pitching staff has been just as good.

Although the numbers are skewed by three wood bat games, HHS pitchers have combined to strike out 32 batters while walking nine in 19 innings. Koch has fanned 14 in seven innings pitched.

Brent Hall through the years

HHS baseball coach Brent Hall watches as his Tigers faced Cuba on Tuesday. Hall earned his 299th career victory.

BOX SCORE

Houston            000      040      0      –      4      3      1   
Cuba    000    000    2    –    2    3    3 

HOUSTON (ab-r-h-bi) – Alex Castleman 3-1-0-0. Sterling Jackson 4-0-1-1. Conner Wilson 3-0-1-0. Cody Allen c 3-0-0-0. Devin Wallander lf 3-0-0-0. Jacob Koch p 2-1-0-0. Braedin Groff 3b 2-0-0-0. Trevor Mitchell dh 2-1-0-0. Hunter Stilley cf 3-1-1-1. Totals 25-4-3-2.

3B: Wilson. SB: Castleman 2, Koch 2, Groff 2, Mitchell, Stilley. CS: Groff.

HOUSTON        IP      H      R      ER      BB      SO   
Koch, W (2-0)            5    1    0    0    4    9 
Jackson, S (2)    2    2    2    2    1    4 

Tuesday’s scores

Houston 4, Cuba 2

Licking 9, Mountain Grove 2

Thursday’s games

Mountain Grove vs. Houston, 4 p.m.

Cuba vs. Licking, 6 p.m.

Friday’s games

Licking vs. Houston, 4 p.m.

Cuba vs. Mountain Grove, 6 p.m. 

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