A sustained offensive slump has proven costly for the Houston High School baseball team.
As their bats went cold, the Diamond Tigers dropped 2-out-of-3 South Central Association games, winning 2-0 last Thursday at Cabool, but then falling in a pair of home games, 3-0 to Liberty last Friday and 3-2 to Ava on Monday.
In what turned out to be a pitcher’s duel for much of the way at Cabool, the Tigers got on the board with a run in the top of the fifth inning when Wyatt Hughes singled, took second on an error advance to third on a wild pitch and then came home on a base hit by Garyn Hall.
Houston got the game’s only other run in the sixth frame. The Tigers got two runners aboard on singles by Stone Jackson and Casey Merckling, and the bases were loaded when Danny Venable was hit by a pitch.
Hughes then delivered a sacrifice fly to center field, driving in Merckling and putting Houston ahead 2-0.
The Tigers had seven hits in the contest, with Hall going 3-for-4.
Hall also started on the mound for Houston and went 6 1/3 innings, allowing only 3 hits while striking out 14 and not issuing a walk.
Against Liberty, the Tigers struggled to figure out junior hurler Jayden Anderson, who gave up only 1 hit (a second-inning single by Hughes) while fanning 8 and walking 3.
The visiting Eagles scored a run with no outs in the top of the first inning on a lead-off single followed by a double to center by Gavin Reese.
Liberty scored again without the benefit of hit in the fifth frame, as Kal Acklin walked, stole 2 bases and crossed the plate on a wild pitch.
Before the contest was halted due to bad weather, Liberty got another run in the top of the sixth, loading the bases on an error, a single and a walk and then scoring on a ground out.
Hughes was on the mound for Houston and went the distance, allowing 3 earned runs on 4 hits, while striking out 10 and walking 2.
Then in another pitcher’s duel on Monday, Ava got on the board with a run in the top of the fourth inning on an RBI single by Caden Lee.
The visiting Bears then took a 3-0 lead with a 2-out rally in the fifth frame, loading the bases on a pair of base hits and an error and getting 2 big runs on a single to short right field by Corey Heinlein.
Houston pulled to within a run in the top of the sixth, as Venable knocked a 2-run single with 2 outs, driving in Hall and Ryan Wolfe.
After the Bears went 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh, the Tigers got 2 runners on in the bottom of the inning on singles by Colton Stewart and Hall, but the contest ended on a strikeout.
The Tigers (11-5, 2-2 SCA through Monday) host SCA matchups against Willow Springs on Thursday (April 21) and Salem on Monday (April 25).
To view photo galleries from the Tigers’ games against Liberty and Ava (with the option to purchase photos), go online to houstonherald.smugmug.com.