After earning a share of this season’s South Central Association championship, the Houston High School baseball team still had several nonconference games on the schedule before playing in the Class 3 District 9 Tournament.
One of those contests took place Saturday at Tiger Field in Houston, as the host squad beat county rival Licking, 5-2.
The victory avenged a loss in the second game of the season, one of only two suffered by the Tigers so far.
Houston struck early, tallying 3 runs in the bottom of the first inning.
The Tigers loaded the bases with 1 out in the frame with a rally including singles by sophomore center fielder Ryan Wolfe and senior catcher Cody Allen, and senior shortstop Alex Castleman being hit by a pitch from Licking freshman starter Silas Antle. Houston then scored on a sacrifice fly by senior Trevor Mitchell and RBI singles by sophomores Danny Venable and Colton Stewart.
The Tigers added a run in the third inning when Venable double to right field and ended up scoring on an error. Houston then went ahead 5-0 in the fourth frame when Allen smacked an RBI single to left field.
The visiting Wildcats (8-8 after the loss) reduced the deficit with RBI singles in both the sixth and seventh innings.
Houston’s infield came up big with rally-stopping double plays in top of the third and seventh frames. The first began when sophomore pitcher Garyn Hall snagged a sharp come-backer and tossed the ball to Castleman at second base, who then relayed it to Stewart at first. The second was a classic 6-4-3 version, with Castleman, Venable and Stewart hooking up for the play.
Castleman had a whopping 7 chances at short in the contest.
The Tigers notched 9 hits, with Wolfe, Allen and Venable getting 2 apiece.
Hall went the distance to record the win on the mound, allowing 6 hits while striking out 5 and walking only 1. Antle took the loss for Licking, allowing 8 hits and 4 earned runs in 5 innings of work, while fanning 2 and walking 3.
Houston (14-2, 6-1 SCA through Saturday) is scheduled to take on a 20-2 Hartville squad at 4:30 p.m. Monday at Tiger Field.