After absorbing a loss to Mountain Grove on April 3, the Houston High School baseball team has rattled off 7 straight victories including a 6-0 blanking of county rival Cabool in a South Central Association conference game Monday at Tiger Field.
During that stretch, the Diamond Tigers outscored the opposition 73-4 and recorded 6 shutout victories. Prolific offense has been the norm during the streak.
“We’re a lot more aggressive on the first pitch than we had been,” said head coach Brent Hall, “and I really think that loss woke us up a bit.”
Monday’s win over Cabool could be called a very business-like outing, as the Tigers didn’t do anything spectacular but won with ease.
“We hit the ball better than what the score showed,” Hall said. “We hit the ball right at people, but we didn’t strike out a lot, made the plays and the pitching was good. We just did what we needed to do.”
The Tigers quickly took the lead in the bottom of the first inning when senior Garyn Hall got on base with a lead-off bloop single and scored moments later on a triple down the right field line by junior Wyatt Hughes. Before the frame was over, Hughes scored on a sacrifice fly by senior Casey Merckling.
The Tigers went ahead 4-0 on a 2-run double by senior catcher Ryan Wolfe in the third inning and added a couple of insurance runs when Merckling smashed a 2-run single to left in the fifth inning.
Senior Garyn Hall started on the mound for Houston and worked 5 full innings, allowing only 1 hit while striking out 8 and not issuing a walk. Hughes pitched the last 2 innings, allowing no hits while fanning 4 and walking none.
Hall also went 3-for-3 at the plate with 3 stolen bases and 3 runs scored.
Senior Caleb Graven went the distance on the mound for Cabool, giving up 6 hits and 6 earned runs while striking out 4 and walking 4.
On Tuesday of last week, Houston hosted a nonconference matchup with Norwood and beat the visiting Pirates 6-0.
The Tigers did all the damage they needed to do by scoring 4 runs in the bottom of the first inning, and then added a couple of insurance runs in the sixth frame.
HHS senior Danny Venable had a masterful performance on the mound, tossing a complete game 3-hitter on 96 pitches while striking out 9 and walking only 2.
The Tigers’ first inning rally began with 2 outs when Hughes reached base on a walk and Merckling got aboard on an error. Wolfe then followed with an RBI single, junior Stone Jackson smacked a 2-run double and junior Aiden Kelly drove in the final run with a base hit.
Houston totaled 8 hits in the win, with eight different players getting at least 1.
The Tigers had an SCA game scheduled for last Thursday at Liberty, but it was moved to Friday in Houston due to Liberty not having enough players, and ended up as a forfeit for the same reason. The official final score of the contest goes down as 7-0 in favor of Houston.
During their recent tear, the Tigers’ pitching has been more than just solid, as is apparent by the lack of run production by opposing teams.
“That’s where our strength lies,” coach Hall said.
Still having a chance to win or share the SCA championship, the Diamond Tigers (14-3, 4-1 SCA through Monday) have their final conference games scheduled for Thursday at Ava and Monday at Willow Springs.
Since Mountain Grove has yet to lose in SCA play, Houston will need some help.
“They have to get beat,” coach Hall said, “but we’re right there if that happens.”